As a response to the global pandemic, in March 2020, my soul told me to search for a creative idea. Afrivisage is the story of two black female co-founders responding to a need in their community. Early in the pandemic, masks were difficult to find! Making masks from recycled fabric is part of our DNA. Before surgical masks became available to all, cloth masks were trending. To start off, we recruited a seamstress. Success. Then we went fabric shopping. After that, I created the logo. I entered the world of digital marketing.
What does Afrivisage stand for? The face of Africa.
Our journey is about handmade masks made by women of the African diaspora. We are based in the 94 department in France. Afrivisage was my first experience in basic accounting and digital marketing.
The O2O, Online to Offline experience, is about Afrivisage’s points of sale. The pan African bookstore Taméry and Georges Fadoul’s hair salon. I became a digital content manager and creator; it was very fun.
Afrivisage is the story of women of colour working together to update and better visualize underrepresented black people’s work and unify the diaspora through African patterns.
What changed during the deconfinements? The price point of one surgical mask is 95 cents. It is much lower in comparison to one of ours, which used to be 10 euros. We tried to beat the market by decreasing our price to 8 euros. Due to re-confinements, our points of sale closed which highly impacted our sales.
What does this mean for us? We are still around, and consumers can order, and buy masks in our points of sale, when they reopen.
Our first picture on the left, was amateur and lacked a digital touch. With the use of Adobe software’s, Adobe Spark, and Photoshop, Afrivisage’s visibility increased on social media and was promoted by colleagues and friends.
All throughout the 1st month, we went through trial and error. Our first sales technique was selling masks to our neighbours and their children.
Did you know? Our first 100 masks were pink. Funny story, they looked like lingerie, but truth be told the fabric came from traditional Nigerian clothes. We originally were going to use the fabric for a wedding. Instead, we used the fabric to make masks. In the beginning of our journey, we tried selling outside, in areas where people shop. As Afrivisage grew, we discovered that selling in-person in our points of sale was very effective.
2nd picture, a digital amelioration.
Afrivisage a success, a failure? Our journey continues. Despite having sold over 150 masks during the 1st confinement, and a low number of sales a year later, Afrivisage gave me an opportunity to learn basic accounting, digital marketing, and a memorable mother daughter journey.
Afrivisage is always happy to serve.
By Heather Laupa, chief digital officer of Afrivisage startup