Throughout April, we will be hosting a series of chats with Nigerian entrepreneurs who are building successful businesses in the country.
Recently we had a quick chat with Wana Sambo Keye, Creative Director/CEO of Wana Sambo to learn more about her, her business and what it means to be an entrepreneur in Nigeria.
Here’s what she had to share:
Tell us about your brand Wana Sambo?
We are an RTW womenswear brand that focuses on creating garments that impact women’s lives. Our garments are named after women whose success stories are an inspiration to all. Naming garments after these women help us share their stories to celebrate their achievements.
We believe in equal rights and support feminism.
We say; the Wana Sambo Woman is Strong, Sexy and Exotic. She is every woman, she is everything a woman dares to be. Our shop; http://wanasambo.com
Why did you decide to go into the fashion industry?
As a young woman, I experimented with different personalities growing up, I tried to find myself through my style in multiple ways. I was sometimes boyish other times minimal and not often “girly” enough until I found my utterly unwavering love for the “boss babe” look which the Wana Sambo Woman personifies. I searched for clothes that expressed my persona but I didn’t think I found the designer that was my niche, so I began creating designs I felt spoke to me in the varying stages of my life.
As an entrepreneur, what is the smartest decision you’ve ever made for yourself?
Gosh! Uhm, none?!. But, as an entrepreneur, we constantly question our intentions regardless of the statistics or what has been proven possible. Perhaps it’s due to the whirlwind of uncertainty that comes with the job but I would say; defining the Wana Sambo Woman’s personality has been the smartest decision I’ve made as it has helped shape every brand decision we’ve ever made.
When it came to launching your business, what kind of support system did you have in place?
My Family was my backbone. My dad; God rest his soul was 100% my rock! My sister, Tari, was the reason he noticed my creativity. Thanks, sis! Lol And my friends from university. They purchased every design & modelled it for free. I’m so thankful for friends & family.
How did you handle adversity and doubt?
By faith in God. Everything I do comes from Him and goes through Him 100%! There’s a Bible scripture to buttress this; “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Phillipians 4:6
As a Christian, whenever doubts arise, I speak the word and I know God hears because He has promised to help me through it all.
What advice do you have for anyone dreaming of having their own business?
Get legal counsel and basic financial understanding. Never jump into a business without good counsel and full comprehension of what owning your business entails. Entrepreneurship is not a walk in the park, not everyone is called to be in business and that’s ok.
Seek Gods will first and once you are sure that’s your path, get knowledge from your industry experts, find a mentor, get ideas on how-to-do-it-right from the internet when there’s no mentor and even when you have one. TIP: It’s better to be a knowledgeable mentee.
In your opinion, what ways can Nigeria better support entrepreneurs?
Nigeria needs to improve its economy. Trading with Naira right now is a fool’s errand. Nigeria has the largest GDP in Africa. In 2019, Nigeria’s GDP was worth 410 billion U.S. dollars; this increased by 4% in 2020 – which should be a good thing. As we know that when the GDP goes up, it means the economy is growing – people are spending more and as a result, businesses may be expanding, however, in Nigeria, the reverse is the case.
The steady decline in the Naira & constant inflation makes it impossible for an entrepreneur to succeed within the country and/or trade beyond the shores of Nigeria with the current instability and available metrics. The Nigerian economy needs to be fixed.
If you knew what you know now before starting your business, what would you have done differently?
Hmm, I definitely would have had a more elaborate and well thought out business plan which would have made room for abrupt changes based on climate change, modern trends and customer behavioural patterns.
We are currently re-modifying the brand’s annual plan to accommodate these changes with a focus on creating more climate-friendly garments and helping today’s woman make more informed buying decisions as we gear towards being an even more sustainable brand.