Starting a Fashion Business is one thing. Growing it is another.
Ezimano Efete, Mano for short, named one of the 100 best Fashion entrepreneurs in Nigeria, during an interview, narrated his marketing success story saying, six months after he finished his youth service, he rented a one-room apartment just around phase1 in Gwagwalada Abuja from the little money he was able to save from his monthly NYSC allowance,. He had served in Abuja and instead of leaving for Delta, his home State, he stayed back.
Mano knew what he wanted from life and that was why he had enrolled in a one-year vocational training in tailoring and fashion design, during the one-year compulsory service. He had then struggled to buy a sewing machine within the first few months of service. Mano was so sure he would make a fortune out of the business because aside from being his passion, sewing is also something he believed could conquer the hard claws of poverty that was already pinching hard at the bare skin of his family.
Even before the completion of the NYSC program, he had submitted his CVs to organizations and schools alike and he was expecting to be called at one of the top Fashion houses in the state. But time passed and depression almost set in as he hadn’s gotten a call from any of the companies he applied to
But Mano didn’t rely on that. He knew he needed to take a step towards his business. He wrote down what he wanted to do on his work book, as follows;
- Fashion designer
- Target market; Male/female
- Target Audience; both young and old.
- Sell quality materials like Ankara, lace, velvets, cotton and even nylon materials to clients
- Marketing; word of mouth to neighbors, friends and church members, Print posters and flyers.
Mano then tried coining a business name for himself, he wanted to use his surname ‘Efete fashion designer’ but he felt it was too long, he finally agreed on ‘Mano Designs’. Next, Jamal printed flyers and a few posters and he was able to paste on them on strategic locations, as well as share the flyers.
Mano’s first set of customers came from friends he had made in the state, as well as neighbors who share the same street with him. They started with minor repairs for their clothes. These sort of repairs only brought in pocket change. But of course, half bread they say is better than none.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and then into a year, customers began to trust him with simple designs for their clothing. What they appreciated more about ‘Mano Designs’ was his promptness and his attitude toward ensuring he satisfied his customers.
Mano, however, was bothered. He felt that the customers he had were not enough. Some came and never returned, except when they had minor stuff to adjust in their clothes. But they never brought major works to him. But his customer base wasn’t growing in leaps and bounds as he had wanted.
He wanted to do something so that it would make his customers want to come back for more. He thought about packaging his customer’s clothes in a special polythene bag with his designer logo on it. And he executed it. Doing that brought more customers than he could think of, but still, there was only a little more improvement in his business, a few months after.
Sure, he was getting better at his craft. This helped keep some customers who started to bring in a few major jobs.
Mano thought hard and prayed for improvement. His prayers and hard work paid off in the form of Stephanie Obems, a 300 level English student, who also happens to be a blogger and social media influencer.
Stephanie was introduced to Mano by her cousin, as she had come paying them a visit and needed to make major adjustments in the attire she was to wear for a family function.
Still looking for ways to expand his business and reach more clients, Mano never missed an opportunity to hand every new client one of his business flyers for reference. And so on the day Stephanie had walked in with her cousin, he had also handed her a flyer. And from the look on her face, one could tell she was impressed.
She knew instantly she’d love to teach him, even if for free, how to grow his sewing and fashion business on the internet using a blog and social media. But she had to be sure first that his handwork was something presentable enough, and so she was going to have to wait until he was done with her clothes. Besides, within a few minutes, she was not the only one in Mano’s shop. A few other people had come in with requests for different jobs. She wasn’t going to discuss blogging and social media in their presence, but she took it upon herself to make friends with this tailor, teach him about taking his business online, and depending on his quality of work, advertise his works on her blogs and pages.
Now as much as she wanted to help him, she had to help herself too, by ensuring she got good commissions from marketing Mano’s clothes on her blog and pages. She’d tell her followers, as at then, 100 thousand of them, the designs where hers. She’d inflate the price and when her followers asked for payment details, she’d give them her account, then contact Mano with a picture description of the design her client wanted.
Moving to create Social Media accounts and pushing hard to grow it was tough, but it has since been one of the best things to happen to her as a student because she now uses her social accounts to help people, and still make good money.
Now assessing Mano from where she stood. He looked the educated type, and open to ideas too. But first, she’d have to see how he performs, before teaching him the ropes.
To be continued…
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