BY VICTOR ADAR
Imagine your relationship hits the rocks. The father of your child allegedly makes it clear that he would no longer support your baby. It reaches a point where you might be back to factory setting and even feel that your aspirations are crushed. Because you are not financially well-heeled, it is, therefore, critical to go back to your parents place and start all over again.
One day, Irene Oduor was on this lonely path. Safety net, though, was her dad who catered for her first three months rent, looked for a vacant house and asked her to move into it. At that time, the only question was: would she be able to bounce back and sustain herself normally?
The answer led her to take Sh2, 000 bob, part of money she was given by her dad as rent, and figured out what she could do that did not require colossal amount of cash. With the little capital, Ms Oduor was eventually ready to go to those who open bales at Gikomba market and pick the best outfits, popular as “camera”. Since she had to be at the market by 6:00 am, in a sense, her day would start at 4:30am, she says. That is how Timeless Kidswear, a dealer in second hand outfits for kids, was born. It was April 2016.
“I felt the need to make my parents proud despite all that had happened,” she says. “I have always had a passion in dressing kids since I had my daughter. Coincidentally, a friend had noticed that I dress her so well and suggested to me to start dressing babies to earn a living. I was going through a very rough time then because the dad had abandoned responsibility and I had to find means to provide since I was jobless too.”
Today, she has embraced planning and spends most of her midmorning delivering quality second hand clothes to customers. To her, selling hundreds of pieces is essential. It is a game of numbers. While outfits for three to six months old babies attracts around Sh500 bob, three to four year old ones go for Sh300, and seven to eight year old collection start from Sh600, the purely online business is a blessing. Her enterprise deals with products for one day to 12 year olds, and she is up to the task.
“As at now we have over 12,000 organic followers on Facebook. I decided to go on Instagram too and barely a year down the line we have more than 1600 organic followers, and so far so good,” she says.
A CPA (K) graduate from Strathmore University, a mother of one beautiful girl, and a born again Christian, Ms oduor believes that business is real only if you get real. To thrive in one, she says, you not only have to brace yourself but also do it right while working smart.
The power of the niche market has worked for her so much that she opted to officially go online in mid-June 2016 not only to cut on overheads that include rent and utility bills for a shop but also to sell her products faster. She started by opening a Facebook page and would occasionally post on her own profile as well.
Generally, outside town deliveries cost from as little as Sh100 while delivery to the Nairobi CBD is free of charge. She has also learned the art of pricing so much that at the end of the day she is left with enough cash to restock, pay bills, and save. On a normal day she can manage to hit a sales target of around Sh6, 000, and can fetch up to Sh150, 000 in a good month.
In her line of work, she has learned that to successfully deal in kidswear business, quality is key. If you would like to embrace online platforms, for example, you must be honest in how you deal with clients and be consistent always. Eventually, clients need the assurance that an entrepreneur is in business to stay and not just to test waters hence consistency is vital.
“My target market is the busy working mum, dad or guardian who hardly gets time to shop and for the stay at home mum who needs convenience as far as shopping for kids outfit is concerned. I also look for that individual who actually has little or no clue of what dressing kids entails because I usually give them fashion tips and suggestions,” she says.
And, well, she knows how to manoeuvre. If it has to do with a client, she creates room to talk and find a solution and if it has to do with delivery team, it is solved there and then. With two permanent employees to save her the agony of doing everything on her own and to make operations run smoothly she is able to keep with the trend and deliver the best to customers. She is giving it her best.
Unfortunately, there is a notion that you can have all the business ideas in this world, and even the much-needed start up capital and money for operations, and still hit a snag. But is that the case? Ms Oduor likes the fact that passion goes into business, being an entrepreneur means being able to deliver and solve a need.
Amidst good tidings Ms Oduor faces challenges a lot of times but consistency and quality has helped her stand out. Her four tips for any entrepreneur include persistence, consistence, patience and prayer.
“My passion lies in dressing babies so I can’t imagine myself doing anything else better than I do this. I love kids too… and I stand out because of how I uniquely pair my outfits and their quality. Besides that, I give room for exchange if an outfit does not fit and a client informs me in good time. Above all, I pray,” she says adding that whenever customers are looking for anything to do with kids outfits, Timeless Kidswear should cross their mind.