Farai London On Their First Influencer Collection with Uche Natori
The last time we spoke to Mary-Ann Msengi was January 2021. Her womenswear brand Farai London had launched just 5 months prior and had taken the industry by storm. Despite launching mid-pandemic, major stars such as Megan Thee Stallion, Kylie Jenner and Lori Harvey were consistently wearing her pieces.
Since then, Farai London has Selfridges and Revolve as stockists, Mary-Ann has grown her team, sold out two in person sample sales, is no longer home based, has spoken on numerous panels, but to name a few achievements.
Take a quick look at her Instagram story and you can see she’s far from close to slowing down.
Now, with Farai London turning 3 in July, we sat down with Mary-Ann to get an update and discuss the next phase in her journey.
So, you are about to launch your first influencer collaboration collection. Why was this the best time to work with an influencer, and why Uche?
We’ve been working on diversifying our silhouettes especially including separates with great success. This collection with Uche is the first step of many towards expansion.
Uche has worn Farai pieces since the beginning and was featured in our campaign that announced Selfridges as a stockist. She’s a joy to work with and a great creative so it was organic. Plus, for our first influencer campaign we wanted to start from home. While our customers are from all over the globe we wanted to highlight and show appreciation to our UK babes.
So tell us about the Uche collection, ‘Natori’
Natori features 10 individual pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a number of different outfits. 3 bikinis, 1 full piece swimsuit, 2 skirts, 2 shorts, a bandeau dress, and a playsuit.
Uche led the collection creatively, with our team supporting and guiding. This is clear in the pieces – they have Yoruba names to represent Uche’s Nigerian heritage, and the print on one of the pieces is inspired by one of Uche’s favourite nail sets. Alongside featuring in the campaign imagery shot by Tiffanie Mersades in Ibiza, Uche also cast the other models to ensure they represented the diverse body types and looks of her followers and friends.
It was important for this to not just be an edit but a creative representation of our team and Uche collaborating together. We wanted a collection that represents all those involved.
For Farai, quality and industry-leading prints were a must. Pieces that represented Uche were important too. Swim was an obvious choice as she’s known for loving swimwear. I’m very proud of the collection.
Talking about the Farai design team, you’ve gone from being a solo founder to leading a design team of two as well as other team members. What’s changed?
The biggest learning curve has been managing a team and realising that to be a good manager I need to prioritise self-development in that area. At the very beginning, I found it difficult to manage Farai’s growth, managing the team and being a good manager. Now that I’ve made that a key focus of my personal growth I’ve seen major improvements.
I really want to instill a personal investment in the growth of Farai in my team members by making it clear that I care about them. From paying for gym memberships, quarterly concert tickets, and target-based bonuses; they are extremely important to the success of the business so I want them to have a vested interest and to feel valued.
Wow, these are such amazing incentives so early on, I might want to work for you now! You mentioned before starting the interview a childhood friend you’ve brought on as a business partner, which is a major change. So, what’s next for you and Farai.
Yes! My friends are a great support system, and one of my best friends from sixth form has been brought on in an official capacity. Already I’m seeing the benefits of having them onboard.
In terms of plans, we have a lot of really stunning (non-influencer) collections coming up and we are continuing to focus on constantly improving. We’ve just delivered stock to a new retailer in a new region, so keep an eye out on our socials for news on that. We are also in talks with a huge retailer that will mean we’ll be in stores all over the UK. Essentially we’re just planning to get better and better.
Before we go, by the time this interview comes out the collection will be live. Which piece is your favourite and why?
The blue bikini with the matching skirt. To be honest this only became a favourite when shooting the ecommerce pictures with Holly (my friend and muse). That’s when I fell in love.
*Mary-Ann thrust phone into my face*
Just look at it. Look! It’s clearly self-explanatory.
Yes, to be fair it is self-explanatory
The girls that get it get it!
While we may joke about that TikTok popularised phrase, this is the true key to Mary-Ann’s success with Farai London. She understands her customers, they understand what she’s building and love it. Whether it’s your own personal cup of tea or not is frankly irrelevant to the probability of her success.
I, for one, am excited to see what she does next! But for now the limited edition Natori collection is available to shop now.