We took some time out to get to know Jessica Laditan, the founder and creative director of Pop Up Africa.
Can you give a short description of your business?
Pop Up Africa is a UK based, Africa Inspired Pop-Up events company formed out of my desire to make African brands more available on the international market. Since it’s launch in 2013 Pop Up Africa has seen stall holders take their brand from pop up stalls to the shelves of well known stores, including Tesco and Selfridges.
Pop Up Africa work to offer support to African creative entrepreneurs in the form of highly sought-after space on iconic sites at affordable prices. Adding new dimensions to the space by presenting the best in African &/or African inspired food and retail, to the masses in the most exciting fashion.
In 2016 Jessica was a judge for the ‘Next big star in African Food’ a competition put together by Red Magazine and Harper Collins Publishers, other press features include Time Out magazine, BBC Africa, The Evening Standard Online and Arik Air’s in flight magazine, Wings.
Jessica has worked with partners such as Facebook, The British Council, The Southbank Centre and Spitalfields E1 to put on events to showcase the best in African products and food to the international market.
Events include; 'Africa at Spitalfields', Pop Up Africa's founding event and now London's biggest shopping experience inspired by Africa and which see's over 3,000 visitors throughout the course of the day. Other events include 'The African Food and Drink Takeover' as part of Africa Utopia at the London Southbank Centre, as well as panel discussions and networking events.
What motivated you to start this business?
I was inspired by a trip back home, where I went to a retail event for local makers who didn’t quite have enough money to rent or buy their own shop and whose products didn’t quite fit with the traditional markets but still needed a physical platform to sell their goods. I had the idea of creating something similar for African makers in the UK and as soon as I had the idea, I decided to run with it. I had just returned to work from maternity leave with my son and although the idea started out of a passion and general interest I loved the thought of creating something that could grow and eventually enable me to run a business from home full-time so that motivated me.
What is the main thing that you want your clients to remember when they interact with your company?
We want our clients to remember how we made them feel, we’re close to the business so we get to know each of our clients and are able to build a relationship with them.
What is your proudest business moment to date?
My proudest business moment to date was being invited by Facebook to plan and co-host an event for makers and digital influencers in Dakar, Senegal which was a platform for the likes of Facebook’s Chris Cox to understand their users in West Africa and how they use social media to promote their business and African culture to a wider audience.
What is the significance of your company to the black community?
Pop Up Africa gives our community a platform to be able to showcase our goods to a wider audience, an opportunity for us to network, share and inspire each other.
Why is it important for people to support black owned businesses?
Supporting black owned businesses is important for the growth of our community as well as supporting each other we also need to work hard to ensure that the standards of our black owned business is high.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to setup a business in your field?
Anyone looking to setup a business in my field needs to pluck up the courage to believe in themselves and just start, they need to network, be ready to work hard and remember that the customer is always right.
What does the next 6-12 months look like for your organisation?
The next 6-12 months will consist of more events and a wider area of growth
Who is your black business inspiration, and why?
Richelieu Dennis is the founder of Shea Moisture. I love the story behind this business. The company was founded in Harlem in 1991 by Liberians Nyema Tubman and Richelieu Dennis (and his mother Mary Dennis), both of whom were refugees to the United States. The company was inspired by Dennis' Sierra Leonean grandmother, Sofi Tucker, who sold shea butter at a village market in Bonthe, Sierra Leone in 1912. It’s refreshing to find beauty products for black women by a black owned business. It’s inspiring that beyond selling his products, Rich also works to challenge beauty stereo types and started a campaign to move black beauty products from the ‘ethnic’ aisle to the mainstream beauty aisles in supermarkets.
Oprah Winfrey is a woman like myself and she stayed focused and gradually built up her empire in an industry where black people were hugely under-represented.
Founded in 2013, Pop Up Africa is an Africa inspired pop up events company, who curate and run African inspired events across iconic spaces. The idea is to bring diversity to the space whilst celebrating culture and giving traders who sell African or Africa inspired goods a platform to sell and promote their products.
Connect and engage with Pop Up Africa via the links below;
If you would like for your business to be featured, email: email@example.com