In conversation with Irene Agbontaen, founder of TTYA London
In this, the second of our two Inspiring Entrepreneurs interviews on Start-up Day, we meet and hear from Irene Agbontaen, founder of fashion brand TTYA London, in conversation with Anis Qizilbash.
Irene’s company TTYA - or Taller Than Your Average - is a fashion apparel brand for taller women, supplying a market that Irene - standing at 5’11’’ - knew was underserviced. TTYA launched in Selfridge’s in 2013, becoming their first tall-specific brand. TTYA has gone on to have a home in Barneys New York and was the first pioneering tall brand to debut on ASOS.com. Irene’s designs have been worn by major celebrities.
In this discussion Irene will be speaking about how she has navigated the industry and gone on to secure contracts with major stockists whilst keeping a very strong commitment to herself, her beliefs about inclusivity and to the essence of the business. There will also be lots of practical advice about how to truly be the face and voice of your brand, and how social media, e-commerce, endorsements and collaborations are all just as much a part of modern businesses as much as planning, accounting and sales.
Whether you are starting up in fashion, or another sector, you may find yourself being expected to change and conform to fit in with the establishment. Irene talks powerfully about her inner voice to resist this and how that, ultimately, has strengthened the business. For TTYA’s first catwalk show at Lagos Fashion Week in 2018 it was a team comprised solely of women of colour that went with her.
We all face a very challenging retail landscape in the light of the pandemic and changes in consumer spending. We’ll talk to Irene about how TTYA has faced this past year and what the future holds. Having played just a small role in TTYA’s story at the beginning, as Irene accessed stats on consumers from our market research databases to help progress her business, the BIPC is so happy to work with Irene again to inspire you as you begin your business now.