We caught up with Seun Tayo Balogun, the CEO of one of Nigeria’s fastest growing lingerie retail brand, Brief Essential. The brand boasts of brag-worthy prices and caters to helping its customers solve their underwear and shapewear related issues. In this all exclusive interview with Lingerie Lust, Seun Tayo Balogun talks about her journey so far, brand aesthetics, essential lingerie pieces and her favorite lingerie silhouettes.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Seun Tayo-Balogun, I am married and have 3 children. I am an Entrepreneur, lingerie fit expert and CEO of Brief Essentials. Overall, I have about fifteen years diverse experience covering banking, economic research, communication, policy analysis, content development, technology consulting.
How did you get started as a lingerie retailer?
My husband and I were looking to purchase pretty underwear for me in 2009, and we could not really find the kind of varieties we wanted in our local stores or online (we love convenience) at the right price. That was an “ah ah” moment for us. Equipped with this knowledge and the determination to make a difference and meet the underwear, shapewear and lingerie needs of the Nigerian market, Brief Essentials was birthed in 2011.
What is Brief Essential’s brand aesthetic?
Firstly, I would say value for money – our prices are considerably lower compared to other stores both internationally and locally. This is in line with our goal to fight overpriced underwear and ensure that everyone everywhere has access to high quality, affordable and pretty lingerie.
Secondly, variety of options – at Brief Essentials, there is always something for everyone. Currently we stock shapewear up to 15XL, and bras up to 50 Band and KK cups; we have men’s items from XS to 4XL and in all category – bras, panties, active wear, sleepwear, lingerie and so on.
How would you describe your journey so far?
The entrepreneurial journey is never smooth, there will be peaks and valleys, but our vision and the continuous opportunities and potential in the market is a major driving force from the beginning and now. Furthermore, the positive feedback we get all the time from our customers and the fact that we have retained a large chunk of them has made our journey more exciting.
What fascinates you the most about good lingerie?
High quality fabric, lace, intricate design, and attention to detail.
In your opinion what distinguishes the lingerie retail from the fashion retail?
The lingerie industry is a smaller segment but an integral part of the fashion industry, intimates are the rock on which fashion stands and there can’t be fashion without the right foundation.
What are your favorite lingerie silhouettes?
What is the Nigerian lingerie market like?
The Nigerian lingerie market is growing daily. There is more awareness and appreciation for lingerie now than when we started 6 years ago. However, the market requires some deepening.
What are the challenges you face as a lingerie retailer?
Because the lingerie industry in Nigeria is still nascent especially online, there are still many misconceptions about fit, size and style. Thus, trying to get people to understand the importance of owning underwear that fits is a continued challenge as sizing can vary by brands, style and from people to people.
How would you describe the Nigerian woman’s relationship with lingerie?
This is a tough one because it’s personal. Some people place lingerie as top priority hence they are like investments that require appropriate care; while for others lingerie is at the bottom of the list and for some others, it is just a necessity.
The average Nigerian woman is plus sized, as a seasoned professional in the field, what is your most important lingerie advice to plus sized women?
Love your body and please don’t settle for ill-fitting underwear.
What are the top 3 things you wish every woman knew about lingerie?
- The fit is more important than the fashion;
- There is a bra, lingerie and shapewear for every body shape and for every fashion;
- Purchase only items that accentuate your best body parts.
What is the one misconception about lingerie that drives you nuts?
The thinking that you have to buy a smaller size shapewear to look trimmer.
Name your 5 must-have pieces of lingerie?
- Well fitting bra
- Seamless panty
- Strapless bra
What’s your worst lingerie pet peeve?
The ‘4-boobs’ situation and wandering bra straps.
On a typical night I could be found sleeping in?
The choice of what I wear or prefer depends on my mood, what I am wearing and what’s best to go with it. For me, there is a specific undergarment for every piece of clothing! But whatever I choose have to be dainty, high quality with feminine details.
What’s next for Brief Essentials?
Our vision is to be the household name for lingerie, shapewear and underwear in Nigeria – whether we are manufacturing, distributing other brands or using technology to improve access, we want our products to be readily available to everyone.