Small business corner with Mary Olushoga
Nicki Minaj, Remy Ma, Monica – who hasn’t worn DashikiPride? The family run e-commerce business founded by Lilian, Mirian, Marysonia, Vincent and Kenneth Ugokwe, sells dashikis. The AWP Network met with owners of this forward-thinking company to discuss what inspired them to start, how they work together as business partners and family members, and how they were successful at securing American celebrities to wear and endorse their products.
What key things have you learned since starting this idea?
My siblings and I have learned that things may not always go according to plan but you have to keep going, stay focused on goals, be patient, and more importantly, pay attention to every small detail because details matter.
How did you come up with your business name?
My sister, Lilian came up with the name. We wanted a catchy name and DashikiPride stuck.
What inspired you to start?
You see, we were already familiar with the prints and people always complimented us on it. Once again, my sister Lilian came home with some really nice colors and from there we decided to turn the idea into a business.
Who is your target market?
Anyone who loves fashion. We have all types of people buying from us like Africans in the diaspora, African-Americans, people from all walks of life.
How have you financed your business?
Bootstrapping and personal savings. We started this business with 200 dollars and we continue to reinvest the profit back into the business.
What is your competitive edge?
Our competitive edge is our marketing strategy, authenticity and the quality of our products.
What is the long-term plan for this business?
We would like to make different items like head wraps and ties. Definitely, we would like to enter new markets, open a brick-and-mortar store and strengthen our capabilities to handle and manage large volume orders.
What challenges do you face?
Right now, getting the right quantity of the items we need to sell.
What five (5) things do startup entrepreneurs need to know?
Invest in yourself,
Be confident in your idea,
Be focused on your goals,
See what successful people in your field are doing. Study them, learn from their mistakes and their good decisions – add all this to create your own narrative,
Surround yourself with the right team.
What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
I would say, start small. The best ideas are the ones that started small and took on a natural growth process. In addition, reach out to family members and friends for their support. They will most likely become your first investors.
How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?
African youths are going above and beyond the call in various industries. It is time for us to come together and build a strong force. At my company, our vision is to become good global ambassadors, give back and be good mentors to the young ones.
How many jobs have you created so far?
So far, we have created 5 jobs. The company is largely run by our family.
How has technology enhanced your business?
We use social media platforms to promote and market our products extensively. Social media has played an enormous role in helping us to get celebrity endorsements. Instagram is a great promotion tool and that is the platform we use to connect and communicate with our customers. It makes everything easy.
How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
Africa needs the following:
Africa needs to tap into its young minds. Currently, Africa kills talent. There are so many geniuses in Africa but there is no support system to move them to the next level.
The world has given Africa a chance to rebrand itself and it starts by all of us young people playing a huge role in it. I believe that our generation will work hard to change Africa’s negative perception and narrative.
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