Alexander Amosu is working with Africa’s wealthiest and aiming to put the continent on the map as one of the top luxury destinations of the world.
For as long as he can remember, Alexander Amosu knew he wanted to be rich. Perhaps it had something to do with sleeping on the floor in the sitting room of a two-bedroom council flat with his grandmother in Kilburn, United Kingdom (UK), or hearing his drunk neighbor beat his wife or maybe seeing needles of heroin addicts all over the floor when he returned home from school.
“It was just a dump. All I wanted to know is ‘what did I need to do to get out of this situation’?” recalls Amosu.
Maybe it was all of the above. Today, that teenager is one of the prominent faces in the African luxury industry. Based in the UK, Amosu is the founder of Lux Afrique, a multimedia platform for marketing and promoting luxury brands targeting audiences on the African continent.
A far cry from his poverty days, Amosu is using Lux Afrique to be the driving partner of any luxury brand entering the African market and introducing it to the high net worth consumer markets. The journey to run away from the days of struggle has been a long and arduous one, filled with serendipitous opportunities for Amosu. At the age of 12, Amosu had already started his first business venture, a fledgling paper run.
“I woke up at 6AM in the morning and delivered about 100 newspapers in the estate that we lived in and I did that for seven days and the owner of the shop would give me £10 and I saved up for four weeks and I was able to buy my first Nike Air Max bubble trainers.
“I remember going to school that day and nobody before that day would communicate with me or hang around with me but when I walked in with those shoes, I was the topic of conversation. That day was the moment I realized that if I wanted to make a difference in life then I have to work hard and be rich and that was the catalyst,” avers Amosu.
By the time he was in university, he stumbled on what was to become his biggest money-maker yet – ringtones.
“I was able to buy my first mobile phone and, on the phone, you could create a ringtone. After two or three hours I was able to create a particular ringtone which was Big Pimpin’ by Jay Z. So, my brother heard it and said ‘can I take it to school to show my friend’. So, he took it to school and he came back with 21 people all saying ‘can I program the ringtone on their phone’,” says Amosu.
The entrepreneur in him kicked in. He decided to charge £1 to each of the 21 new customers netting him £21. Then the light bulb went on. After some research into the ringtones market, Amosu discovered that there were no all-black ringtone companies in the UK at the time dedicated to the RnB or Hip-Hop genre. The companies at the time were only doing pop and rock ringtones and so he decided to be the first to service that market.
“We launched the ringtone on the back of a flier I was promoting at university. Within three months we had enough money to open two offices in Islington and I was employing 21 staff. Within a year we turned over £1.6 million and within three years the turnover was just under £9.6 million,” avers Amosu.
He sold the business for £10 million when the ringtone market got saturated. Next up, he decided to venture into the luxury customization business.
“So, I took an iPhone and sold it for £20,000. People thought I was crazy because they asked why would I sell a phone that cost £600 for £20,000,” says Amosu.
He managed that feat by putting diamonds around the front of the phone and adding a luxury concierge service. The success of that business led to the customization of other brands like Blackberry and Motorola. His diamond-encrusted phones became the hottest luxury accessory for top UK celebrities such as David Beckham and Naomi Campbell. Not satisfied with his ground-breaking luxury accessory business, Amosu decided to follow another passion, this time to conquer the world of fashion by creating the world’s most expensive suit.
“They looked at me like I was crazy again. I explained that if you were going to create something there is no point being like every fish in the pond, nobody is going to be able to distinguish who you are.”
To stand out, Amosu went on a search to find the three most expensive fabrics in the world and went a step further to embellish the materials with 22 carat gold pinstripes. The suit cost a whopping £70,000 and went on to win the Guinness World Records.
The next stop? To bring luxury brand ownership to Africa.
“So, I decided to set up Lux Afrique so I could show luxury brands that we had ultra-high net worth [people] across different parts of Africa willing to buy their products.”
Lux Afrique was launched five years ago; you need to earn upwards of £1 million per year to be a part of the brand’s concierge service. And so far, Amosu says he has 500 of Africa’s wealthiest elite on board.
Lux Afrique’s motto is to celebrate African culture and put Africa on the map as one of the top luxury destinations of the world. This led to the birth of the events side of the business with a focus on creating luxury events from an African perspective on the same level as the world’s top events like Formula One.
“We created Lux Afrique polo day. Nobody knows that people play polo naturally in Africa. So, we created an event which is now in its fourth year where we celebrate African polo players and we have our high net worth clients as well as luxury brands together,” says Amosu.
For Amosu, the goal is very clear.
“I want to disrupt the narrative of thinking [that] Africa is all about flies and starvation.”