The ability to manage and own your business is always appealing especially during trying times where job security becomes threatened. Most millennials would attest that they seek fulfilment beyond the 9-5. Entrepreneurship affords you the opportunity to take ownership of your own business. However, the path to getting there requires a great deal of passion, dedication and patience.
I conducted an interview with Deborah Akingboye. She manages a clothing line Debsclothier where she produces African prints and beddings. In addition, she is also a Lifestyle Blogger inspiring others with her content on fashion, life and travel. Here is what Deborah has to say about her path on entrepreneurship.
What did it take to start your business?
I actually started the business with zero capital. I had a supplier who was willing to give me fabrics and allow me to pay back after-sales. So I started that way until the business was self-sufficient to start buying and paying immediately. Once that happened, it was easy to add other products.
How do you find clients and attract more to your products?
Most of my returning clients come from word of mouth. At first, people were sceptical of buying Ankara because of how saturated the market is and the possibility of buying one that will wash. But after one person buys and can vouch for me, it becomes easy to spread the word and get others to buy.
Also, I work with influencers and bloggers. Their audience trusts them and that makes it easy to establish an online presence. I also get clients from when I style items from my products.
How do you navigate production during COVID-19?
It’s affecting my production. For example, I print the 3D pillow in a particular location and then tailors are also in another location.
Before COVID-19, it was easy to move around and get all this done at a minimal cost but now, it’s not easy to move around. Then, I have to spend more. In order not to lose customers due to pricing, I had to put that aspect of the business on hold. I now focus on things that are easier to move around like the Ankara throw pillows, Ankara duvet, and the Ankara print itself.
I love how I can be in control of a lot of things like making business decisions. Also, I get to meet people while at it. I used to be an introvert but this has afforded me the opportunity to be less introverted.
What’s a challenge you face in entrepreneurship?
It’s not as rosy as people think. I remember earlier this year, I stock up on prints after the new year, forgetting people are just recovering from Christmas spending. My business capital and personal funds became stuck.
All my money was tied up and I didn’t know how to ask people for money without feeling like I’m putting them in a difficult position. It was such a tough time but I kept on marketing aggressively till it was all sold out.
For any entrepreneur, there will be broke days and days of bad decisions.
How would you advise other entrepreneurs or those who are interested in the path?
Being an entrepreneur isn’t rosy at all. You have to be your own manager, accountant, PA, driver, marketer, sales girl/boy and everything you can think of.
There’d be days you’d record no sales and there’d be days you’d record a lot of sales. Don’t be in such a hurry and don’t be impatient.
Before you venture into any business, be sure you have a passion for it naturally. Let it be something you enjoy doing. Ask yourself what the back story is? Because some days when it feels like a chore, those answers will be your motivator.
Lastly, please, never ever compare your entrepreneur journey to any other person’s own. Take your time and grow through it, one day at a time. One day, it will make perfect sense and you’d be thankful you did not quit.
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