Since the early days of Edward Barnays, the father of public relations in the USA, the US Public Relations (PR) Industry is now a multi-billion dollar business and remains one of the fastest growing fields in the country. It employs over 200,000 people and focuses on creating necessary imagery and messages to convince the public or influence public policy for its clients.
Within Nigeria, while public relations is not a novel concept among banks and oil industries, in the creative industries, especially fashion, it is still a very new concept. To date, there is only one PR firm within the country, MORSI PR, solely focused on servicing Nigeria’s fashion &/or beauty industry and its professionals. The firm’s founder, Moriam Osiro Musa, is our LadybrilleNigeria Personality of the Month.
“PR in the (fashion) sector is lacking seriously. You have to have a genuine passion for it before you venture into it, as it comes with its own loads of challenges,” explains Musa in our interview with her for this feature. “There are so many hidden talents out there and no one to package and project them properly.”
She should know. Musa began Morsi PR in 2008, “because (she) felt a strong need to project the creative edge and talent of Nigerian’s fashion industry in the right manner.” In 2008 and till now, many within the industry had no idea of what public relations meant, much less the need for a PR agent. PR, at best, was and is Nigeria’s hugely thriving wedding industry and the high profile coverage by the media of its major wedding celebrities; think the recent Jameel Disu and Bella Adenuga wedding as a reference point.
“There was a void that needed to be filled,” continues Musa in her explanation on why she decided to open a fashion focused PR firm. “[I] decided to make it a busy one by starting a journey that most dreaded and would not embark on because it was termed as “UN- lucrative” and not worth the hassle.”
Logically and on its face, those who feared to foray into Fashion PR were right! There was no track record of financial success. While names like Nigeria’s Canada based Bobby Taylor/Bobby Taylor PR existed, Taylor’s firm focused &/focuses predominantly on music. Within fashion and within Nigeria, it was hard to point to a fashion PR firm. Nevertheless, Musa seemed undaunted. As time would show, she was the right person to help pioneer the first ever Nigerian fashion, beauty and lifestyle PR firm.
Musa’s education and professional background, to fully appreciate the mark she would make in Nigeria’s fashion history, might be helpful.
Musa attended Air Force Secondary School (AFSS), Ikeja. She subsequently enrolled and completed college at the University of Ibadan, graduating, by 2001, with a degree in Nutrition from the school’s college of medicine. By 2004, her love for all things fashionable overwhelmed her need to continue work as a Clinical Nutritionist at NNPC Clinic Benin-City. She quit.
That same year, Musa with very limited experience, except for her passion for fashion, got her first real fashion job as a rookie fashion journalist for City People Magazine.
From 2004-2008, while at City People (arguably the country’s most popular soft sell fashion and lifestyle magazine), Musa helped develop and implement numerous fashion events and programs including: the First Bridal and Accessory Exhibitions both at Terra-Culture, the First Women Empowerment Programme held at Golden Gate Restaurant, the First City People Fashion Awards aka the ANKARA FESTIVAL held at Lagoon Restaurant, the First City People ANKARA SHOW and the ‘Return of Mon-Ami (one of Nigeria’s fashion icon),’ to the Nigeria’s Fashion scene.
Now armed with a strong fashion resume and equally important, the connections, Musa felt convinced she could lose the “UN” in “UN-lucrative,” with her goal to launch a fashion PR firm. In October 2008, Musa launched MORSI PR, Nigeria’s first fashion, beauty and lifestyle PR firm “positioned to redefine the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industry through the creation and deployment of parity-breaking PR strategies.”
Since its launch, MORSI PR has represented some of Nigeria’s foremost fashiona nd beauty brands including: Banke Meshida-Lawal/BM Pro, Tara Durotoye/House of Tara, Ugoma Ebilah/Zebra Living, Venevici, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi/LDA, Sixth Sense, Tae, Alima Oyofo, Hair solutions, Hallero, House of Dorcas, Ouch, Etc Lingerie, Ella Henri, Della, Alter Ego Textiles, Adu, High Society-Diva, Dermalogica (S.A.), Beth Modelling Agency and Makeda.
In addition to the fashion brands represented above, Musa’s MORSI PR also stages an annual event called “Beauty and the Feast.” Beauty and the Feast, now in its second year, is according to Musa,
“Nigeria’s finest, professionally driven fashion, beauty and lifestyle exhibition, designed intricately by the couture board at MORSI PR to fulfill the most outlandish fashion PR dreams.” The event is “a gathering of the most outstanding, unrivaled, style-imbued designers, fashion icons and beauty professionals under one roof to showcase the effulgence of Nigerian Fashion and beyond.”
Musa hopes that her success and foray into Fashion PR will allow others to “step up,” as she puts it. “That is the only way we can propel the Nigerian fashion industry to its Zenith worldwide, like in the western world.”
As to PR tips she would give Nigeria’s fashion professional and businesses to help amplify their brands, Musa provides these tips:
“1) (for designers) ensure you have a collection that easily flaunts your unique selling point; 2) pay attention to details. It is very important; 3) have some kind of online presence, even if it is Facebook or a blog; launch a website for professional interaction; 4) talk to a genuine and registered fashion PR company, with (emphasis) on the fashion, because not all PR coys are fashion pr coys.”
LadybrilleNigeria salutes and celebrates this brilliant woman for her accomplishments and trailblazing qualities.
“Elegance Speaks! Style has a VOICE. Communicate your Style,” says the budding PR maven. We agree.
The Beauty and the Feast event takes place on May 23rd, 2010.
~Article by Uduak Oduok
WOMAN OF THE MONTH: OBY NWAOGBE
A running feature for 10 years, The ‘Ladybrille Woman of the Month’ celebrates women in business and leadership, who empower themselves and others through their contributions and actions in their local and international communities. In 2014, the feature expanded to include a podcast show. If you would like to nominate a woman to be celebrated, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.