From Engineering To The World Of Fashion: Meet Elfonnie And The Style Rave Story – Part 2
If I had to tell every detail of what it took to build Style Rave to become the brand it is today, we’d be looking at a 10 part story––so I’ll focus on the key points.
If you’re just joining us, this is a continuation of Part 1 of the above-titled article. To catch up, click here to read the preceding part.
What’s my purpose? How can I best serve?
Prior to September 2015, among many inspirational speakers and thought leaders, I had been reading and listening to Brendon Burchard, one of the world’s leading high performance coaches. In a particular piece, he talked about how to figure out your purpose, what you’re passionate about or what you should be doing. As one of his tips, he shared that one of the best ways of figuring out your purpose is by asking a few of the people closest to you what it is you’re really great at. Since the issue of “purpose” had been on my mind for quite a number of years, I did just that. I asked a few of my closest friends and family members what I’m great at and some of the key things I kept getting was, “you have great style,” “you love helping people” and “you write very well.” I remember my husband saying to me, “babe, you just know how to make things look beautiful.” I took notes and went to the drawing board.
You see, throughout my years as a fashion magazine hoarder, I wasn’t just one to read a magazine for entertainment. Like with everything else I do, I read magazines intentionally, learning how titles are chosen, how stories are organized, and studied how models and celebrities are styled. You could say I was a student of fashion and lifestyle and Vogue was my institution of choice.
One of my concerns as I flipped through thousands of pages of fashion magazines was how low the ratio of people who look like me was, compared to other races. Somewhere in my mind, I had resolved to one day change that and create a platform where ‘women of color’ could be celebrated and placed center-stage without waiting for years to make it on Vogue. And with the recent loud cries for a Vogue Africa, I couldn’t help but feel proud of the void Style Rave has been able to fill in the past 5 years.
The naming of a brand: How Style Rave was coined
Now, let’s go back to where we left off in Part 1. After Uni and I agreed on creating a fashion platform, the hunt for a suitable name was the next natural step. We came up with Style Hub Nigeria, Style Watch Nigeria and a few others before ultimately deciding on Style Rave Nigeria based on popular vote by our friends and family.
As our original name implied, Style Rave was originally created with Nigeria in mind. Our goal was threefold:
- To inspire girls and women like Uni and I by curating engaging content that not only entertains, but informs and empowers them to become more stylish, live smarter and be healthier.
- To share the latest fashion, beauty, lifestyle and culture trends in a strategic way that helps rebrand Nigeria.
- To help bridge the gap between the Nigerian fashion and entertainment industries and the global fashion and entertainment industries.
More than a fashion media brand
As apparent in our goals, from the beginning, Style Rave has always been more than a fashion and style brand. We created Style Rave with the hope of inspiring a more intentional way of living in our community. So whether you’re dressing up for work or an occasion, making lifestyle decisions or craving the latest and best of African and Pan-African culture, we want Style Rave to be that one-stop resource for you.
Under our lifestyle segment, I am particularly passionate about promoting mental health awareness in the global black community as this is such an important aspect of health and lifestyle that is often neglected or stigmatized. I became so inclined after becoming exposed to how much our mental health affects every area of our lives through my husband’s role as a psychiatric provider. Prior to meeting him in 2012, I was simply naive about the realities of mental health and remember once telling him that ‘people who have such issues don’t know God’. I was so wrong!
Now, let me tell you a little story. One day in 2015, I spent my launch break at work reading about a guy who had “retired” from his tech career at 35. He had saved up a few million dollars through thrifty living, maximizing his 401K and working a little harder over the years. His plan was to officially retire from work and live the rest of his life doing consulting work when he felt like, traveling the world and just living his best life. I was so inspired!
I went home that evening and couldn’t wait to tell my dear husband, Reagan my latest dream.
“Babe, we’re going to be millionaires!” I enthusiastically shared. He stared at me so hard and then replied: “you’re hallucinating.” I couldn’t blame him. As a mental health provider, he couldn’t understand how an optimally functioning human with about $50,000 in savings planned to become a millionaire. Plus, at that time Style Rave wasn’t even an idea, so he couldn’t understand how we’d easily do that with just our full time jobs.
Let’s just say, he no longer thinks I was hallucinating. In the past 5 years, we’ve built three successful brands including Style Rave and his Telepsychiatry Practice, Rave Psychiatry. But I must add, these came with a lot of hard work. Entrepreneurship is no easy feat.
Growth calls for change
As the Style Rave brand began to grow, we realized that our work was being enjoyed by people in other parts of Africa and throughout the world. To better satisfy our diverse audience, we began to feature content by creatives and influencers in the countries where we had the most following. So, from a Nigerian-focused brand, we became an African brand and ultimately a Pan-African one. It’s safe to say that as a Pan-African brand, we feel truly at home because after spending exactly half of my life in the U.S., I see myself not only as a Nigerian but as an African with an acquired American culture.
At Style Rave, we’re proud to serve women and men of African descent in every corner of the world and are committed to inspiring a generation of stylish, confident and driven women and men.
“The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately” – George Koufalis
While our growth has been steady and impressive, the journey has been far from easy. Think about it: two sisters building a brand while raising two children each (and of course, also serving our supportive boos) and maintaining a career that pays the bill. At least, this was been the case until I was able to ease off my full-time Civil Engineering role some months ago.
Like it is with giving birth to and raising up anything in life, we’ve had many many sleepless nights, many low moments and many reasons to question ourselves but these moments have been drowned by many successes, the support of strangers from far and wide and our commitment to why we started in the first place––it is indeed true that once you identify your ‘why’ it is easier to keep going when the road gets rough.
2020: The year we were suppose to ‘blow’
2020 was going to be our year! September would mark our 5th anniversary, and as the quintessential dreamer, I foresaw that this year was going to come bearing huge fruits from all our hard work over the past years. By December 2019, based on popular demand, we had launched our shop and things were looking better than ever. As 2020 began to show its true colors with the pandemic, a climaxing of police brutality in America and multiple sad cases of rape in Nigeria, we were reminded that like in everything else in life, there’s only so much you can control when it comes to building a brand and growing a business. Through it all, we’ve remained committed to being a positive, inspiring brand, helping the women in our global community stylishly thrive through the ups and downs of life.
What’s next for us?
For starters, we are officially trademarked! Yes honey, your brand is now patent protected.
What else? We are launching a premium segment of Style Rave come July 1st!
What should you expect from our premium segment?
- Exclusive content with practical fashion, beauty and lifestyle TIPS to help you succeed at work, socially and improve your relationships.
- Style, beauty and lifestyle SECRETS straight from me.
- 1 month FREE membership ($49.99 value) to our STYLE & SUCCESS TRIBE (Limited Time Offer). This gives you access to our monthly Style & Success e-Hangout with Q&A session with Elfonnie and special guests via Zoom. Our first Style & Success e-Hangout is kicking off Saturday, August 1, 2020. We will be talking style, success and entrepreneurship tips!
Click here to join the Style Rave Premium Club.
How can you be part of our journey?
As a new or existing member of our digital community, our story is your story. You can continue to be a part of it by engaging with us on our website and Instagram page; advertising your business to our discerning audience on both portals and shopping for your statement clothing from our shop.
The Style Rave journey is dedicated to God, the giver of wisdom and fulfiller of dreams; our spouses and families; our supportive friends; our dedicated followers and readers; and to dreamers who dare to become doers.
I am truly dedicated to doing my bit to help the next generation of black lives identify their purpose, build their dreams and destroy the false stereotypes the world often tries to pin on us. I’m reachable at email@example.com.
Here’s to a dream worth building, here’s to Style Rave!
P.S.: Wondering where’s Uni? She’ll tell her story when she’s ready.
For the latest in fashion, lifestyle and culture, follow us on Instagram @StyleRave_
––Love my blazer dress? Shop the look here