Yeah Mr. White, Science!

Years ago when I first got my camera and was contemplating what lenses to buy for this new toy, I stumbled on a post about home-made macro lens.

I finally tried it out today, after a discouraging trip to three camera stores to look at some macros.

Lens are so cool. I did dozens of experiments with them in Physics lab in high school, but today’s home experiment with my dslr and a steady hand totally had me channeling Jesse from Breaking Bad:

YeahScienceMeme

The easiest explanation is that in reversing the lens’ direction, you reverse its effect. If it was giving you Sagrada Familia in a 2″ screen before, now it gives you ~1:1 close-up of the beads in your new men’s bracelet collection:

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It reminded me of when I was about 7 years old and, guided by the Basic Science book series my mum bought us (or maybe my sister Tosin’s science text book at the time), said sister and I made some homemade pinhole cameras. That was just one of our several home science experiments, where I was willing Jesse to her cerebral Mr. White. Even at that age, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who believed in experimentation as the best way to learn, and a smart way to get results.

I’ve been experimenting with Nigerian-made powdered-glass beads. This was a result of months of pondering what to do with the beads, made by local craftspeople in Nigeria. The picture above is a preview but I look forward to sharing the full collection with you and hearing your favourites.

Love,
Minku

A Cornucopia of References at Manuel Bolaño’s SS2015 Show

This season, Bolaño regaled us with a tale of cardinal reds, blush pinks and terra cottas, which, like his AW2013 show four seasons ago, was combined primarily with black or white to form each look.

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Some sportswear pieces dominated the collection, and these were beautifully executed. But alongside the stripes ‘n’ sneakers that usually signify sportswear, throw in some broadbrim hats and crowns of thorns (or, technically, tourmaline) and it is safe to say that Manuel lost me a bit on the reference or look he was going for with his collection this season.

Hair and makeup form a major part of Manuel Bolaño’s storytelling each season. It is, afterall, he who gave us the sweet Lolita guys and gals with their air pollution masks and pin-straight hair from SS2014; and models with elaborate Mayan tattoos from his AW2013-14 show. This season, his girls came down the catwalk with pinched brows (which seemed to age them) and bruised knees (which bestowed a sense of playground youth).

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There was quite a lot going on with the silhouettes, sometimes it was sportswear, other times, like an assymmetric floral appliqué dress which was rendered in red and in black, it was breezy-romantic. Two consistent elements were the ragdoll teddy, which has followed Manuel through many seasons, and the insect motif, which was immaculately rendered on the gauze of some of the sportswear.

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In all, I think Bolaño’s ideas for this season’s collection, or the looks that resulted from it, could have benefited from a bit of editing. It didn’t seem to know if it wanted to be a sportswear collection, or goth, or romantic, or Wild Wild West. It is a challenge for even the most experienced of designers to try to pull off a seamless combination of four references in one collection.

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What I did like were the insect references (including an iridescent men’s jacket that seemed to emulate the colouring of a fly’s wings), and Bolaño’s quick-as-bolt bow at the end (I see he’s keeping up the red facial hair!).

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Please note: You can now find us on Instagram, where I document some more of our fashion week adventure in pictures. And if you missed our general review of our experience at the fashion week this season, you can read it here.

love,
Minku

Minku at 080 Barcelona Fashion Week – July 2014

Here are some highlights from Barcelona Fashion Week, which we took part in from June 30 to July 4, 2014.

As always, it was a lovely chance to unveil and share what I’ve been working on. For the Spring/Summer 2015 collection, N U D E has been the name of the game. Beiges, pale pinks, pastel shades, sweet-almond pinks, and some greys thrown in for good measure.

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This season, the Moba bag also gets reimagined in fresh summer pastels: a peach-hued python-patterned skin, highlighted on the sides with peach sheepskin panels. The bag is sophistication (not shown is its lining, done in a complementary damask that has a lovely family story to go with it). Sitting on the showcase table, the Moba bag already revealed its regal beauty. But then model Cristina struck a pose with me and the bag, and totally brought the bag to life:

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Minku is now on Instagram and on there, you can see some pictures that I didn’t include above. I would also try to get into the Insta-groove the best I can, so please follow so as not to miss out on updates via that avenue.

Love,
Minku

Forbes

Today, we’re in Forbes.

 

Three years ago, I figured that the secret of aso-oke fabric was too beautiful to keep just within our culture, and that it had to be shared with others. Others who may never get to wear traditional Yoruba dress around their heads or waists, but who carry that most universal of fashion needs – bags.

The journey since then has been remarkable on a personal and professional level. It is encouraging to be acknowledged for this work.

Thank you to you reading this for following me on this journey so far and helping me make Minku become a reality.

Happy New Year 2014

This past week

The past week has been amazing and interesting.

I am currently doing some production work. I went to work with a tailor today to sew some linings for the bags and it was an interesting experience. I was a bit sad to tell the truth, the guy was restless and kept throwing me ideas without listening to what I wanted to do. And just the way he was careless with the materials, throwing the thread, not caring that the oil he used to oil his machine stained the leather, the state of his fingernails… it was clear we might not be a happy working couple. It’s not that hard though, to just do a neat job. Is it? Or to instill confidence in people who come to your shop, by just approaching the work in a relaxed manner?

Today we’re on Tech Cabal, Venture Beat and Founders Grid. And yesterday I gave a talk to employees at Jobberman at their Speaker Series. I am very grateful for all these opportunities and beautiful things.

Ahhh I am working a lot though. But hearing me talk about how much work I am doing is not why you visit this blog, right? Ah well, too bad, and too late :-)

Love to you guys, thank you for your support and love always, and if you are in Barcelona next week, please come to El Born because we will be there at the pop-up stores in Barcelona Fashion Week.

Minku

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Happy New Year 2014

It’s the last day of 2013. I hope that as you reflect on the year, you find yourself finding reasons to be happy and to think it was a good year, but also that you have reasons to look forward to 2014.

Last weekend, my uncle came to visit. I have just one uncle from my dad’s side, and he and I have always been close. We watched me (meeee!!!!) doing an interview on Silverbird TV’s breakfast show (my uncle recorded the whole thing on his phone), and then my siblings and I headed to the beach with him, his wife, and my cousins.

My mum packed us some food, and when we got to the beach (at about 10 in the morning), we rented a bamboo hut for the day. We went horseback riding, ate, and napped. I taught my cousins how to use the digital SLR camera and they took some of the most fabulous of the picture selection below. We also danced; there’s always music on the beach in Lagos, and all my fave musicians now were covered: Olamide, Wande Coal, Wizkid…

It’s nice going to the beach in Nigeria because those huts are so convenient and help you stay out of the sub-Saharan sun!

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Happy New Year everyone.

love,
Minku

Yonderland

We are phasing out the blog and introducing Yonderland, our new monthly insider magazine on travel, culture and how to style your Minku items. We feel that an online magazine layout would allow us express things we want to convey — things that, as much as we love blogging, are sometimes lost in its linear format.

Read the current issue (and access archives)

Sign up for Yonderland

If you are already on our mailing list, thank you and we’ve got you covered. Also there are unsubscribe links on the form, so you can undo your sign up at any time.

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Also, as we grow, we’ve been undergoing a web site change, and you can visit (and please bookmark) the new Minku home page:

www.minku.com

The Lean Fashion Startup

Yesterday I was talking with a lady who is starting a business. One thing that came up several times in our discussion was the idea of ‘doing it right’: of having everything ready before launching at all — a great web site with a fully functional e-store, branding,  the product available for order in mass quantities, and staff at hand to handle distribution, etc.

At some point I think I surprised her when I told her that for Minku, I  had taken the exact opposite approach.

In April 2011, I had made about ten leather bags and gadget cases, uploaded photos of them to a free wordpress site (which you can identify with the dot wordpress dot com suffix), and sent out an email to about 100 of my facebook contacts, introducing my new business project.

From that facebook marketing campaign, I made one sale, my first sale, for 88 euros. I was super happy as I packaged and shipped that bag to Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming up with the logo, creating an online store with worldwide shipping, dedicating time to product packaging and branding, and buying a web domain… all these came later. I tested the core idea: make bags and sell them. When it worked (or seemed to, after the first few sales), I incrementally built the business behind it.

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I have been reading the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. The author is on to something — something that cash- and staff- strapped business launchers from Nigeria to China have been doing for centuries. Granted, it is easier to be ‘lean’ when you are just one person with 24 hours in each day and only so much funding. It is harder to be lean when you have just scored angel capital and have investors who expect the levels of growth you promised in your business plan. Or when you have just hired people to fill the sales, customer service and tech divisions of a company that is yet to earn its first cent.

But the testing, the feedback and the direct-to-customer relationship built by lean companies (or by companies in their lean stages) is worth it.

Here is a fashion business idea I heard of recently, and how I would approach it using a lean philosophy:

– An company like Rent the Runway, for Spain.
Rent the Runway is an American company that rents designer clothing and bags to people for a fraction of the cost. For example you can rent a Prada bag for $30 per night to wear to Barcelona Fashion Week. You will look good, without having to buy a Prada bag.

My approach:  It doesn’t have to be Prada or Dolce and Gabanna clothing, at least in the beginning. I would follow the local Fashion Week circuit (attend the fashion shows and fairs, etc of the city, whether Barcelona or Madrid or Lisbon or Valencia). I will approach the designers. Many of the clothes you see on fashion show catwalks do not get manufactured or sold in larger quantities. They end up as prototypes in the designer’s archives.

Well, I would ask those designers if they would be interested in this ‘Rent-the-Runway’ concept. Better still, I would invest in five to ten quality pieces I loved from the runways. I would see if the designers are interested in some type of publicity-for-discount exchange. Once I have the clothes or accessories, I would have them photographed and placed in a classy mailing introducing my business idea. I would test the idea by mailing this document or web page to some friends or family members or third-party networks. Goal: to score a few initial customers.

– What are people willing to pay to rent an item, for example a Manuel Bolano limited edition hat or an Azabala coat to attend the Goya awards? 20 euros per night? 45?
– How much do I have to invest in dry-cleaning or transporting the item to the client (sometimes internationally, and I can imagine, often times, using express shipping, which is exponentially higher)?

– In what condition are the items being returned? How many uses can I expect the item to have before I have to retire it from my arsenal of clothing? If a dress gets stained, can it be effectively cleaned before the next wearer needs it?

This way, I would be able to plug numbers into the business plan, and have a more realistic idea of my business model. Hopefully I would even make some money (still not profit… remember I just spent on five designer dresses).

But at least, I would know if my business idea is realistic. I would also know this before I have spent say $100,000, loaned or raised, on clothing and warehousing only to learn that nobody is really interested for reason x or y, or that wine stains don’t ever really come off linen dresses.

The post has already been a bit longer than I wanted it to be. I want to see more fashion startups, but it would also be cool to test the business model before going all-in. The lessons to be learned from testing (by talking with customers, seeing at a smaller scale whether our assumptions about customer behaviour, the market, etc hold) are priceless.

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If you would like me to give some suggestions on launching a business idea using a lean approach, then please email me at minku@minkudesign.com. I would recommend the book by Eric Ries, but really, the name sounds cool but at its core, lean is about creativity. It is about divide-and-conquer: breaking a problem up into manageable pieces, focusing on each piece in its order of relevance to profitability and customer satisfaction, getting feedback from as many of your users as possible and using it to improve the core functions that are already working. Finally, it is about incrementally building a fully viable product or idea from a shell (MVP or Minimum viable product according to Ries) that has been proven to be viable.