Oyinlola Adekogbe is the founder of Jedi & Co LTD, a fashion accessory and clothing store. They also specialize in customized bridal accessories. She shares how she started her business with Woman.NG
FROM HAVING AN IDEA TO STARTING YOUR BUSINESS, SHARE YOUR JOURNEY WITH US
My business started out as a co-incidence. I had spent all my monthly allowance to buy shoes and I had to sell at least a pair to survive in school. Then it became a hobby as I found myself enjoying it, so I didn’t have any major ideas, but with time when I started getting feedback from clients, I started to see their pain points and then was consumed with creating products to meet their needs.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO? THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER BUSINESSES YOU COULD HAVE EXPLORED, WHY THIS?
I just always loved shoes and regal, royal bridal gowns like every little girl does, and I loved sketching these dresses in my spare time, so it was natural for me.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW BEYOND ALL DOUBT THAT THIS IS GOING TO WORK?
I wasn’t sure how quickly it would all work out, but I knew that I wouldn’t give up until it did.
HOW DID YOU RAISE THE CAPITAL TO START YOUR BUSINESS, ESPECIALLY WITH THE HIGH COST OF RUNNING BUSINESSES IN NIGERIA?
I started my business with #15,000 allowance while in school, then at some point, I sold my car to get more capital. I also have a 9 to 5, so I constantly save personal funds for growth and expansion of my business. My mum has also been very helpful as she has given me loans and she never asks for pay back.
HOW SOON DID YOU START MAKING PROFITS?
I started as an online store, working from home, without any overheads. So we started making profits almost immediately, but since we got a physical location for expansion purposes, most of our profit goes into purchasing assets.
BRILLIANT IDEAS DON’T ALWAYS MEAN GREAT SALES, HOW HAS IT BEEN MARKETING YOUR SERVICES?
Marketing has been a little easier with social media as we can find our target market and they can also find us without coming to our physical store. Word of mouth, referrals and influencers have also been very helpful in marketing our brand.
AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE HIRING STAFF AND BUILDING YOUR TEAM?
I have been really lucky in that regards, I have always hired people who join our team seamlessly. I think the most important thing in hiring as an entrepreneur is been able to sell the vision, once they are invested in the vision, it’s easier to work together.
YOUR GREATEST SKILL/STRENGTHS THAT HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY BEEN OF HELP IN STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS
Working as a sales representative at my 9 to 5 has been a blessing, so not only have I learnt sales and marketing, I get to see how a product based company is run and learn all the processes and system.
DID YOU HAVE TO GET A FORMAL TRAINING OR QUALIFICATION TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS?
I didn’t have any formal training in business, but I have made a conscious effort to invest in learning skills I need. I also have attended fashion school and Fashion Illustration classes as we hope to diverse into production of our pieces soon.
YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS FOR SOME TIME NOW, WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISHED YOU HAD KNOWN BEFORE YOU STARTED?
I wish I knew more about Accounting and how to understand my numbers sooner.
ANY LIFE EXPERIENCE THAT HAS PARTICULARLY PREPARED YOU DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FOR WHAT YOU DO NOW?
Not sure. I lost my dad at 11, and I watched my mum work “soooo” hard to raise my sister and I. That prepared me to work and never expect any handouts from anyone because really no one owes you anything.
CHANGE CAN BRING OUT A PART OF US WE NEVER KNEW EXISTED, WHAT NEW THINGS HAVE YOU DISCOVERED ABOUT YOURSELF IN THE COURSE OF STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
I discovered I am too much of a risk taker, which is a good thing but can also be a bad thing, so I take more time in making decisions now.
THE GREATEST BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED AND BY WHO?
Know your numbers; never assume you are making a profit because you are making sales. From my mum.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS ESPECIALLY IN NIGERIA?
Be Resilient and don’t be afraid to start small.