The month of Love as it is tagged is rolling it’s sleeves and I thought to give you all a post-valentine’s day gift. God has blessed this world with incredible personalities and I won’t stop revealing them. I had so much fun interviewing this particular person, she spewed a lot of thought-provoking facts and I bet you’d tap from them. I can’t forget to mention how hilarious she is, indeed she derives pleasure in making people happy. Let me allow you read before I spill the beans. Read, enjoy, grab the lessons and don’t forget to share.
It feels so fantastic having the popular “Sisi Kemi” on my interview list. Your expertise when it comes to connecting with your customers is second to none, personally, I’d like to know how you do it. Kindly tell us about your heroic self and what you do.
My name is Oluwakemi Jumoke Ewegbemi, I am an online thrift vendor, I sell anything thrifted and my things are pretty affordable. Every regular person or girl can afford to dress or look nice. I see myself as an individual who can be related with, whatever I exhibit; I make sure I am not faking it or exaggerating.
I graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University, I am also a student of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). The online space is my own form of diary, people can easily connect with whatever I post or say. It’s also a means for me to connect with my customers. I don’t even see them as customers anymore, we are now family. I have had several encounters at the mall where people would shout: Yanga. A lot of them don’t know my name.
The Internet seems to be a huge revenue generator these days, how can young minds draw business opportunities using their social media platforms?
The internet is sure a huge revenue generator, that is a fact. I have not even done one-quarter. However, I feel happy knowing all these things. I don’t see the social media as something you stumble upon to check up on your friends; people are making money from it. I am a huge fan of Toke Makinwa (let’s go far) see Kim Kardashian, although people have negative thoughts about her for exposing her body, I try to pick valuable lessons from her. The Kardashian family are business oriented, check out their fashion show, cosmetic lines and stores. They also have had their down moments but they have come back bigger.
Pick out the positive part, the one you can easily relate with, if your business is all about you, rebrand yourself! If you want to invite Toke Makinwa for a show or an event, you have to pay her because she is a brand. You might call her several bad names, she’s calling the shots. I see my own personal brand as a way to volunteer and give back to the society. Fashion trends, how to save… I wasn’t born with all that I know today, thank God for the social media era, I monetise all these and I believe people of my age can do greater if they look inward.
One thing about you that caught my attention is your creativity. If I may ask, how did the brand, Yanga Slay/Save evolve?
It started when I was in school. We will be three this year, we still haven’t crossed that five years mark they give growing businesses. I have the understanding that a business will last forever if it crosses that five years mark. This my entrepreneurship journey is three years now and I know it’s been GOD, I really don’t know how I do it at times. There have been dark times and how I come out of them is just God, this is not me trying to give a cliche answer, at some point, I had to start all over again. Especially in this part of the world, where every form of policy or the situations of the economy will frustrate you, we conquer still. I am consistent with GOD and he has blessed me with amazing customers.
Handling a WhatsApp Business account requires mastery. Surprisingly, you get a lot of connections from there. How do you do it?
WhatsApp is still my first love, I used to sell on BBM before people started jumping to Instagram and others. I am the only child, I went to a boarding school and I don’t have much interaction with people. Imagine having WhatsApp, a means through which you can connect with people you aren’t close to. I can be on WhatsApp for a whole day, if I can’t relate with people physically, I’d do it virtually. It just makes everything easy. Whenever I am not online, people notice, probably because they haven’t seen my status update or messages. The contents I put out there are exquisite. I met 80 percent of the people I interact with today on WhatsApp.
Life itself brings a lot of challenges, I’m certain at the early stage of your career, you faced one or two difficulties, tell us about it and how you were able to pull through?
I think I can be referred to as the Queen of challenges but I wouldn’t call myself that. Imagine schooling in Ife, Osun State and coming to shop in Lagos, It’s a 4 hour journey. Each time I buy stuff during the weekend and I get sold out, i move again. I travel 3 to 4 times in a month. It was strenuous, the roads are bad, security wise, it wasn’t all that good.
Someone asked for a quick loan, I gave the person my capital since I was sure I’d get it back soon enough. Unfortunately, the person couldn’t pay back. I had to start afresh, sourcing for capital all over again. That is one part where I had to start my business again, to source for capital, buy things afresh. It taught me one great lesson, don’t give out money you can’t part with.
You can imagine sourcing for money again, money that I struggled to get, it was so difficult. I don’t give up easily, I don’t take NO for an answerer, I sourced for that money and thank God we are here. That is one of the challenges that I have encountered in my business, sourcing for capital was hectic. I have others with logistics, getting damage goods, my health and stress. More challenges will come definitely, when there’s a will there’s a way.
You are a very busy lady, how do you manage your personal activities and business?
I am combining my 9am – 5pm schedule with my business. I don’t have glamorous personal activities, I am in a relationship with someone who is understanding. I am not the party person, when it is time to hang out with my friends, I make sure I get a notice ahead to balance things.
Tell us a little about your Savings Platform.
Yanga Savings Club started over a year ago. When I started, I knew I couldn’t do this savings on my own, I failed at it. I saw the need to have people come on board, I knew I would be accountable to them, that’s how it evolved. It started when I was serving, everything just became so easy because I have likeminded people. Of course, I encountered challenges, I started making rules, filtering people that will be on my savings platform, saved a particular amount for a particular time/duration. So far, it has been good. I have been able to build my business from my savings and there have been testimonies from people that joined too. My savings platform also aided me to save for a new iPhone to capture my products for display online.
Was there a time you thought of going into the corporate world?
There were times I thought about going into the corporate world. I once worked at a law publishing firm, that was before NYSC. You know that period where you have to wait to be mobilized by your school. I have always been business minded. I remember in my predegree days, I always told people I was just in school to get the certificate. The end goal was to do business, even though I wanted to have a feel of the corporate world. My work is still a corporate one, even though I don’t get to interact with people except virtually. I don’t leave my house, I think I’ve crushed that goal.
Is there a day you don’t get customers?
I can’t think of anyday I don’t get customers. It is not that I am perfect or overly organised, I just determine that a day won’t pass me by without having a credit alert from a customer. When I was on break, I still got credit alerts from customers. As we have our yearly goals, I have my daily goals. At least one person must credit me. Don’t get offended whenever I mention GOD, it has been GOD, nobody else. When I write down my goals, I still take it to Him.
Do you feel fulfilled doing what you do? If yes, what is your definition of fulfillment?
Yes, I feel fulfilled, when I was answering question eight. I said something about doing business. My mum has always known. What do I term fulfilment? It is what brings joy to you. No matter what I go through in business, I see them as necessary stress, I am happy I derive joy. Especially putting students on this platform and hearing them say: thank you, I made 1000naira today. Hearing God bless you is more than having money in your bank account. Money is good! but if you tie your pleasure to money, when you don’t have it, it means your joy has been taken away. Happiness is fulfilment to me, putting a smile on people’s face. The joy you feel when you help other people cannot be measured, it is priceless and that is fulfilment for me.
Everyone keeps saying “School is Scam”. What’s your comment on this?
School is not scam! I started in school during my undergraduate days, if not for school where would I have gotten the opportunity to start this business and expand it? It is not about the certificate, the people you meet in your journey through school, the things you learnt cannot be wasted. School is not SCAM! If I have the chance I will further my education, I am motivated to go back to school to gain more degrees. I am not of that school of thought.
How can a business owner keep a good relationship with his/her client?
Very Simple! Just be there. Just like you keep your relationship with your best friends. When they have occasions, always celebrate them. Whenever they need your empathy, empathize with them, when they need you to celebrate with them, do it. You might not have the same level of feelings towards all your customers, but do the best you can. I think that’s how I build a good relationship with my customers and that works.
I believe business and friendship are two different things. How do you cope with friends who want you to give them clothes for free?
I am just blessed with amazing friends. You see this thing called life, when they say you attract the person that you are, it is a fact. If what you are selling is on the high side for me, I will make sure I find customers for you. There is no reason for my friends to say I am not supporting them. When they don’t have the money, they pay later. When I have the capacity to give, I give too. Giving is my lifestyle, I don’t just sell sell sell to them always. Before I run give-aways, I ask for what they need.
What does My Inner Awesomeness mean to you?
It is that peculiar gift we have. Each one of us was born with gifts. My inner awesomeness is that thing that makes me extraordinary, might not be at the exterior level but it is inside, I try to help and be there for people, that’s my inner awesomeness. I derive pleasure in providing solutions to people’s problems.
If you had the opportunity to travel now, which country would you pick?
You can’t believe I have never been on a plane. I would like to travel this year, I would say Dubai, Ghana and Cape Verde. Those are my favourite places to visit.
Heels, sneakers or Sandals?
Sneakers for sure, nothing else.Do you believe there are business opportunities everywhere?
There are business opportunities everywhere, even in your head. My mentor, my amazing coach, Stephen Obi said knowledge is the new gold in his book. You don’t have to sew, make wigs… before you become an entrepreneur. You see that head you are carrying about everyday, there are ideas in there. In your head, there are business opportunities, things you can teach people, turn to an online course and make cool cash from.
What’s your advice for young entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship requires patience. You should never be in a hurry to make money. There are days you’d be depressed. If the money is not coming initially, be consistent, keep at it, it will come. You have one person who can support and help you, HE IS GOD. When things don’t work out as you have written it or planned, try another plan. Yorubas would say, Ona kan o wo oja. Don’t give up, be persistent.
Thanks for your time.