Website of the Year

Modafirma

We talk to Angela Enez, founder of Modafirma, the social commerce fashion platform.

Modafirma.com is an exclusive social commerce global platform and application, that provides the technology, marketing and PR for emerging and independent fashion designers to locate, curate, sell and advertise their unique creations directly to consumers worldwide thereby optimising the rigid buyer supplier networks that exist within the fashion industry. We talk to founder, Angela Ene' to find out more.

We are in effect an online virtual mall... in that we facilitate emerging and independent designers from all over the world to sell, showcase or advertise in one centralised hub. Imagine being afforded the ability to shop the unique boutiques in the lanes of cities like London, New York, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Singapore to name a few in one location, that location being www.modafirma.com

One significant facet of Modafirma is ModaSocial..., a social media application that enables instant messaging, sharing of friends, contacts, purchases, likes, favourites and allows designers to gauge demand by communicating directly with consumers.

Currently, Modafirma provides over 150 carefully selected designers from over 25 countries globally with various levels of fully autonomous, social media embedded online boutiques and showrooms that allows them to sell and advertise in a fashion credible community for a fraction of doing so themselves. We are fully focussed on the ethos of talent and so before a designer applicant is allowed on the platform they are fully vetted, researched and approved. Once this approval process has occurred, they can upload their merchandise and have an online boutique or fashion showroom with back end reporting tools within a matter of minutes.

We are the ONLY social commerce fashion platform and application currently in the UK... and perhaps the world that operates the current business model that we do. In that we operate a freemium model giving the emergent designers with limited access to capital to start off with a subscription free boutique. They are able to sell, build up economic traction and upgrade to paying boutique levels with more beneficial facets as and when it is economically viable for them to do so.

Our business model is unique in that we operate a middleman space between businesses and customers. This allows us to avoid the heavy operational costs of traditional stockists ccommerce models and as such we maintain capital and high gross profit margins that can be readily reinvested in the business for further growth.

Like many creations the idea for Modafirma arose out of sheer necessity... One of the many facets of my previous job was meeting new clientele or attending various conferences and so there was always the need for a 'new outfit.' I never wanted to be a part of or look like what I call 'the grey office mob.' Also being a London girl, my outfits then and now always require a bit of 'Je ne sais quoi' or 'sting in the tail.' My outfits are never purely high street or purely high end designer labels but rather an eclectic mix of unique well tailored pieces from designers from all over the world. I would usually spend just hours traversing the entire web and various online boutiques globally just to get the right look. One night whist carrying out this laborious process yet again, the Eureka moment came out of the blue and I thought why isn’t there one place where I can shop directly from emerging designers from all over the world in one go? I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I just wanted the right idea, one that encompassed all the things I liked, those things being fashion and finance. This was the idea I found. I then contacted a digital agency and started building.

The site launched as a market viable product in June 2013. In the space of just over fifteen months, we have gone on to acquire 150 designers from over 25 countries globally. We are an application only platform and so we carefully research and select any designer before we grant them access onto our platform and into our community. We believe at the current rate we could hit 200 designers before the end of 2014.

I believe with all online technology businesses, it is important to continually innovate, add interesting features that are in line with the fast changing digital landscape and so one of the biggest challenges that we face daily is simply staying ahead of the game or with the game. This usually entails significant amount of brainstorming for new ideas and product development, ensuring that we are not reaching our sell by date.

I spent over ten years in banking and investment management. I am a chartered accountant (CPA), chartered analyst, with a Masters degree in Finance and Investment from Cass Business School and a BSc (Hons) degree in Chemistry, Physics and Business from Queen Mary and Westfield London University.

There are many people that I admire in business like Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, but hands down it has to be Sir Richard Branson. Primarily because he is a living example of someone starting from grassroots upwards. He left school at sixteen and is now a billionaire. I like the fact that Sir Richard Branson seems to just get an idea, an inspiration to do something and just rolls with it with no doubts, no second guesses, for example Virgin galactic space travel. He has started so many successful businesses in areas where he has zero expertise, which takes guts. He also seems like he is having a lot fun doing his thing. Finally to me and to many others, he offers inspiration as to what can be done with a bit of imagination, guts, and perseverance, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist.

Well for me, running a start-up company, networking is pivotal to get the word out there and to also make connections, form alliances and garner what is being discussed in various fashion forums. Therefore LinkedIn is key for me. After that, it would probably be Whatsapp as this allows me to stay connected with all my friends, family and clientele scattered all over this world.

Just before I started building Modafirma, an old friend warned me, "It does not mean that if you build it, they will come." I know now that he was right! It takes a huge amount of effort and time to get customers, users and clientele; it is an art in itself.

My motto is... Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

As for where the business goes from here... Currently we are going through further product development and improvement in line with consumer requirements and key trends. We will then perhaps strike out for Angel Investment in the ensuing months. In the long term my aim is to make Modafirma one of the key players and well established brands in the online and digital fashion technology space. I may even start a Modafirma clothing line... we will see. I have many ideas.

As for entering awards... As we are a pretty nascent start-up we have only really entered one other completion, the Growing Business Awards 2014. We are hoping to get shortlisted, we will keep you posted!

We found out about the GWG Awards... as I regularly follow the GWG. I am always very intrigued to read about new startups and online propositions. It is a way for me to keep adept with various sectors. The GWG presents them in a succinct way that makes favourable reading prior to my early morning caffeine doses.

September 2014