The Folklore raises $1.7 million to power B2B platform for African-centric brands
Founder and CEO Amira Rasool of The Folklore said she aims to make the e-commerce site that features emerging African fashion brands from the continent and diaspora "the LVMH of Africa."
The venture's latest milestone is putting her closer to that goal.
Backed by Techstars, the Colorado-based operational investor supporting tech entrepreneurs and ventures, The Folklore will expand its platform to launch 'The Folklore Connect', a B2B wholesale e-commerce platform aimed at connecting retailers with the African and diasporic fashion and lifestyle designers it currently represents on the site. The group also includes the consumer-facing arm 'The Folklore Marketplace' and 'The Folklore Edit', a media platform featuring industry analysis, interviews, and news. Thus, effectively creating three pillars of the business.
"We used this investment to evolve The Folklore—which initially operated as a direct-to-consumer multi-brand e-commerce platform—into 'The Folklore Group', a conglomerate of B2B, consumer, and media technology products enabling global retailers and customers to discover, connect with, and shop African brands," Rasool told FashionNetwork.com.
She and her team raised the pre-seed fund round led by Slauson & Co. with participation from Fearless Fund, alongside other notable Black investors, including WNBA star Nneka Ogwumike. Rasool, a former fashion and Black culture writer, is among the less than 200 Black women who have raised $1 million or more in venture capital funds, according to Business Insider.
For Rasool, most of the funds will help realize the next phase of the first African luxury group by establishing a seamless wholesale process for retailers as global demand for African and diasporic brands.
"Instead of The Folklore or the brand independently attempting to address the consumer demand alone, we are allowing retailers to easily acquire the products their customers love and want in a way they have never been able to before," she continued.
So far, the Folklore Connect platform launch will include a spectrum of brands across fashion, beauty, and home, such as Rich Mnisi, Orange Culture, Suki Suki Naturals, The Underargument, and Vavvoune.
Orange Culture has already shown promise in becoming an international brand, but Rasool maintains they are just the beginning.
"All of our brands can become international breakout brands that earn substantial revenue. That's a prerequisite for even becoming a partner of The Folklore, to have the desire and the foresight to scale globally," she noted, calling out Orange Culture and Andrea Iyamah.
These brands have been in business for 10-plus years, and as the CEO and founder put it, they spent the time preparing for the moment when retail and consumer demand spiked. The Folklore gained traction in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.
"Not many of our brands have been around that long. In another two-three years, there will be dozens more brands that will witness a similar level or even greater success, especially in their wholesale business, due to the infrastructure and visibility The Folklore Connect provides, "she added.
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