We reached out to Creative Director and CEO, Marie Kipre, to talk about the business of fashion, how she’s pivoted during the pandemic, and what the future holds for the Nadrey Laurent brand.
AFI Insider: What was the key motivation for becoming a designer?
Marie Kipre: I have always loved fashion, beautiful clothes, and elegant silhouettes. I have also realised that fashion could be a way to represent my culture and my origins to the world. I wanted to be an ambassador of Cote d’Ivoire within the greater, global fashion sphere.
AFI Insider: What are the 3 lessons you’ve learned since starting your brand?
Marie Kipre: Since starting Nadrey Laurent, I’ve learned the following:
- Believe in yourself, because nobody else will.
- Do a lot of research. One may have great ideas, but one needs to have an understanding of what is out there in terms of what people are looking for, the trends, how to improve the production processes, and so on.
- Get the best team possible. Surround yourself with people who know their jobs, have great work ethics, and will impact positively on the brand’s final outcome.
AFI Insider: Has your design and retail processes changed since the pandemic hit? If so, how?
Marie Kipre: Since the pandemic, the design process hasn’t really changed but the production and retail processes have definitely changed. We have had to close our small production unit during the lockdown. We didn’t renew the lease for our brick and mortar store (which ended during the lockdown) since there was no one was going outside anymore. Because people are not going out as much, we are rethinking our sales system by focusing more on online outlets and pop up events.
AFI Insider: Where do you see the Nadrey Laurent brand five years from now?
Marie Kipre: Five years from now, I see Nadrey Laurent as a global brand. Not only showcasing but being sold in retail shops in New York, Milan, Paris, Tokyo, Dubai, Marrakesh, Luanda, Johannesburg, Brasilia, and so forth. But also, I see the brand supporting diverse causes such as helping young girls in school.
AFI Insider: What advice would you give to upcoming, female fashion designers?
Marie Kipre: The fashion industry is not always pretty and nice. So the young girls who really want to venture into this industry should toughen up believe in themselves, their talents, and they should set achievable goals. I believe that women have so much potential, they should go for it and change the world.
Here are a few of our favourite looks from the Nadrey Laurent brand: