Melissa of Obánj was one of the 2021 recipients of the IdeaFunding Adelante Arizona Prize. The Adelante prize supports diverse founders, such as women-owned and BIPOC-owned companies here in Southern Arizona. Obánj was founded with the intent of making couture jewelry accessible to professional women.
Q: Describe your company. What’s your product and what problem are you solving for your customers?
A: Obanj is a sustainable luxury company where members are able to borrow luxury jewelry for $29 a month. I understand the dilemma of needing to show up and be seen and look a certain way, but not quite have the funds to match the aesthetic. So, I decided to address it. This is also a sustainable model. A subscription-based approach to fashion allows us to practice more responsible consumption of fast fashion.
Q: Congratulations on winning the IdeaFunding Adelante Award! What are your next steps? How will this money help you achieve your goals?
A: Obánj is bootstrapped, intentionally. I want to be able to create a dynamic brand where I can tell a story and work on cultivating an amazing experience for our customers. I’m always thinking about how we can add touches to the whole experience from beginning to end that cultivate a high end experience. When you’re bootstrapped, every dollar matters. The Adelante prize will allow us to do more testing and play a little bit more with different products and customer outreach strategies.
Q: What inspired you to start Obánj?
A: I used to work as a freelance journalist before I transitioned to Hollywood and worked with some prolific artists. I noticed a common theme with my friends across industries (grad students, media, entrepreneurs, not-for-profits, finance, big job promotions) of not having access to the clothes that match the goal aesthetic. I found myself thinking, we borrow clothes from our friends and return dresses after we've worn them once, but maybe there's an easier way. Women are building our lives and achieving our dreams. Fashion should not be a burden or pink tax that we have to endure in order to look good.