In a series of interviews, online showroom yourbandspace.com asks retailers all about their business, from stock to sales and everything in between. This month, the company sits down with Annabelle Mu’azu, founder and director of Beautifully Undressed.
When did Beautifully Undressed launch and why did you decide to set up an online lingerie boutique?
I launched Beautifully Undressed in November 2012. It was following my decision to take a sabbatical from my other passion, African art, in which I’d worked as a curator for over 15 years.
Please explain the concept of your store.
Beautifully Undressed is a fashion and designer- led online lingerie destination, a one-stop boudoir experience offering an exquisite selection of luxury lingerie, loungewear, and upscale boudoir and seduction accessories.
Who is your target customer?
We’re a British company but international in our thinking and branding and so we want to cater to all fashion-confident women. However, I am particularly keen to offer gorgeous lingerie to women in Africa and this was a major factor in my starting Beautifully Undressed. On my travels to West Africa – and for the three years I lived in Nigeria – I noticed there was a dearth of choice for a lingerie obsessive woman like myself and I believed there was a niche to be filled in providing luxury lingerie to consumers in that region. Therefore, I have partnered with a new payment and fulfilment company called ProfPay, which empowers customers from Ghana and Nigeria to buy directly from UK retailers and have their items shipped to them in West Africa. Last month, we also launched on a new online mall that caters to the African market called Mogoogi.com. This coincided with the launch of our revamped website.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
That has to be keeping control of my buying budget. As a new business, it has been quite tough as there are some fantastic brands that I’d love to include now, but I am learning to be patient, as building a business is about appreciating that there’s a fine balance between forging ahead with dream plans and recognising that things happen at the right time.
Which brands do you stock?
Our collections are made up of both British and international independent, niche and directional labels, including Dirty Pretty Things, Playful Promises, Shell Belle Couture, Sonata, Lascivious, Madame SuperTrash and Kriss Soonik. Olivia Von Halle and Eberjey will also join our portfolio this season, but I am keen to support up-and-coming designers and one such brand is Elena Fenby, which will also be joining BU in the Fall.
What do you look for when deciding which brands to stock?
It’s a mixture of trend-led brands and timeless designs. I’m glutton for sumptuous laces, lush colours, stunning appliqué work, mesh, provocative designs and funky directional strappings. Essentially, any lingerie that gives me goosebumps is a done deal because I know its lingerie that will make a me feel fabulous, sexy and womanly, and that’s what I want for my customers.
Are you looking to stock anything in particular at the moment?
Yes. I’m looking to stock a number of brands, including L’Agent, Bordelle and French brand Vannina Vesperini – I just love their simple template and delicious combination of vibrant colour and luxe silk.
Do you notice a difference in the lingerie that men and women buy online?
Absolutely. I’ve noticed that most of my male customers tend to buy the more provocative brands and playtime apparel. They’re also more inclined to buy single items, while women always buy sets.
What marketing techniques of you use to drive customers online?
Social media is key to our marketing and we’re on all relevant platforms, with a fantastic following on all. We also engage with our customers via our newsletter and try as much as possible to market via these mediums where are our target audience is quite prolific.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to start an etail business?
If it’s a your passion then go for it because it’s that passion that will see you through the pitfalls in the road to success. Do your research and prepare as best as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, especially to people already in the industry.
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