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Conversations with Hogoe Kpessou

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hogoe Kpessou.

Hi Hogoe, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I launched on October 26 of 2020. I’m from Togo, I went to school in Arlington heights elementary, then attended Christ the king catholic school and Bishop Kenny.

I was dealing with bullying throughout my school career that I didn’t even realize the doors I suppressed for myself. Meaning, I never thought this would be my life after high school, When I launched, I only had a few samples.

And essentially this is how I also kind of like run my store because to be in the department of luxury and to be able to find the money it’s just not really there, or at least inaccessible to me. When I was trying to prepare to be able to like launch, all lenders and banks said “You haven’t been in business enough”.

Which was confusing and discouraging to me because I was thinking “Well… this is a startup. How long am I supposed to be in a business where I am just getting started?” On top of that, this was early on into the COVID pandemic. So, unfortunately for me, a lot of people were also just like reluctant to give a 22-year-old any more for a fashion brand.

So, as a result, I launched with what I had which was $230, just enough to get small samples made for a photo shoot. In my effort to be resourceful, I submitted the designs and had samples made, and used them to advertise. I honestly just got lucky that Twitter loved my designs and aesthetic and I went viral with my launch. So, with the money from the pre-order.

I reinvested into being able to get a bulk order deal on my inventory and that’s still how I grow my brand today. Since my opening, I’ve been on business insider and Forbes. Better yet, I am going to be in fashion week in September. Finding funding and such can be hard but in regards to achievements, I am grateful for where my brand is and the heights it’s been achieving.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Aside from how limited funding has been, or finding someone willing to fund a large amount without wanting to buy a share and just sales in return. I remember one of the biggest issue I came into was around Christmas when orders are like flying in. I was supposed to restock on some very popular inventory.

And UPSlost 80%+ of that inventory. All of a sudden, they magically didn’t know where it was. They knew it was in the United States. But from there, they couldn’t find it. And I was freaking out. At the time, I had been in business for three months and I was already losing things, I was almost ready to give up.

It was a very discouraging time. I was in a frenzy thinking I need to give these customers their money back because I don’t want people on Twitter saying I am trying to scam people. I was emailing everybody like crazy, calling UPS nonstop, recording the conversations, and using them to provide proof in my emails so people didn’t think I was scamming them.

I was on the recording like “Hello, what’s your name? Who do you work for? And what is this about?” I was lucky enough for people to be understanding of it because it was pretty much within COVID. So a lot of people weren’t expecting me to be like Amazon. That was probably one of my biggest challenges in launching. Unfortunately for me, I’m facing that again right now, UPS just loves to “lose” my packages.

Recently, UPS also lost two of my large inventory packages, and they haven’t even scanned them. So that cost me a lot of money, I can’t afford to lose inventory, but they don’t seem to care much. In the end, it’s a matter of balance as well. I think that would also be one of my biggest challenges trying to find a stable center throughout it all.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am now known as a designer, and brand owner, I run Hogoé Kpessou. But I was originally an author of a few poetry books on amazon. My proudest moments are rather generalized.

I’m proud of following the journey that led my head, and proud of the consistency even when it gets hard.

I actually would love to add that I’m one of the youngest brands invited to fashion week this year in September and currently raising money to help support expenses.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
I’ve grown fond of mental health I’d say. As someone studying psychology, I have to be. I joke and tell people I’m only studying it so I can be my own patient. So when things go wrong I can often be hard on myself. But in the end on a day like today when my bank account gets locked because I lost my phone.

I have to be grateful that it isn’t worst and work out ways to fix it. It is never easy. I’m an emotional person. I usually sit in my own annoyance of the issue before I am calm but I always know I’ll eventually be calm again. The end goal for me is to be a legacy brand with a name generations know and that I shall be. I knew I could do it but wanted to know if I could. I hope that made sense.

I come off rather confident in some ways I can say I am. Making about Half a million this far in a pandemic with plans to hit a million in the next 7-8 months. I have proven to myself I can very much succeed but in every choice, I make even now I’m often still making the choice to prove to myself that I could do what I said I could.

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