Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Starting an online business

I have been looking for inspiration for a post for a pretty long time. That's the only downside to this whole writing without planning it out. Some days a post just wants to flow out of my thoughts, through my fingertips and on to your screen but I just don't have it in me especially when an epic idea comes when I am neck deep in weekend dishes or when I am in pursuit of a cheap thrill; watching t.v, re-watching a movie watched one too many times or binge watching a series as if my life depended on it. Now that I think about it, procrastination needs to take the back burner if realizing my 10,000 hours is still in the works.

After much thought, today's post is going to be about the very thing that has taken over my thoughts, the start of my online business.

It all started on a whim. I was doing some guilt ridden, unnecessary thrifting after getting off of work one Saturday afternoon. As I was digging through a pile of dresses it came to me; I always tend to lift something out of a pile and think to myself, "It's nice, I wouldn't wear it, but, it's still nice" in the back of my mind I knew that someone would buy "it". This thought became more frequent and developed over time. The price in the thrift market is often rock bottom, to good to be true even, people would pay much much more for this. Eventually, I thought, wouldn't it be something if I could get in on the action and resell these clothes. I only entertained the idea for most of last year  and the better part of this year when I decided to just do it. There was no better time than now. Actually,  the better time would have been the very moment that the idea came to me but it's too late now, onward ever.

Four Saturdays in a row I have been hard at work thrifting some pretty stellar finds. I have always found shopping fun especially when you are past the student budget phase and making a little more on the side. It was fun for the most part until when I remembered that I wasn't buying the clothes for me, sad and vain.Who said taking one for the team would be easy.

Over the past month the clothes have accumulated, now, we, myself and my sister cum business partner have stock. Two weeks ago we officially took the plunge and started our Instagram store, summer.oddity.ke. Clothes were ironed, pictures were taken and uploaded so it would just be a matter time before the orders would start trickling in.

Let me tell you, whoever came up with the phrase, "just a matter of time" I am baying for your blood. The one week mark is about to be crossed and nada, zilch, zero orders.

Over the past few days I have been a serial follower, following anything and anyone . That has paid off, its paid off alright with a few hundred followers and a couple of likes but not even a single order. Can you tell my frustration is mounting?

That in a nutshell is what we've done so far. We are not waving a white flag yet. If I took anything from my Marketing and Entrepreneurship class in my formative years of college was you only throw in  the towel once the business turns three years old. Basically, I just need a little bit of fight in me, scratch that, a lot of fight in me.

Up my sleeve I have a myriad of tricks. The execution is going to be another thing. From my observation of other Nairobi based Instagram stores they've got the followers, we are on the road to building a following at least that's the one thing we are doing right. They, tend to post frequently, rather have a pattern of posting. The weekend seems to be a pretty good time to put new merch out and get the orders coming in. That, may be it, getting a controlled amount of our stock out at peak times and then the results ...orders, orders and more orders.

I am enjoying the ride as I go, not in the traditional sense but still enjoying it. However, right of the bat I have made a couple of stupid mistakes. For one, the moment that I got the first batch of stock is when the sales should have started, Instagram account should have been up and running and a strategy gotten down to a T. Instead, I let the excitement get the better of me and continued injecting capital into a then theoretic venture. Money has been spent, so has time and I may have in my hands clothes that I don't even care for.

Another thing I have learnt is pricing. Pricing things for more than double the price you got it for is a no-no. Even potential clients know the price is too high. Tripling the amount of money invested sounds pretty riveting, no doubt, it is and would be a dream but humility never hurt nobody so I guess this is the part where I come down from my high horse and slash prices to an all time low they have never been before.

Timing is everything, last year as I walked home from work in my dimly lit neighbourhood(someone should really look into that) is when the name, "Summer Oddity" came to me I was so excited went home and created a pinterest board that would fit the aesthetic of my dream store. That would have been the opportune time to jump in both feet with the little money I had in my name and just go for it. By now, I would have had a solid client base and a steady cash flow. Kids, those are the consequences of what-ifs.

But the mother of all mistakes was entering an already saturated market. If you are in Kenya and you're on Insta in the search bar search "thrift" the number of stores that pop up...at this point it's just false hope and faith pushing me through.

As sick as it may be, regardless of the mistakes, I am enjoying the lessons that are coming with this new venture of mine. The whole point was to challenge myself, meet another one of my financial goals that I set this year and a valuable lesson I have learnt with this whole adulting situation stacking up your money in your current account as much as you may consider it to be something, interest rates are pretty low, having your shillings and cents just sitting there is doing more harm than good; there's a thrill that comes with venturing into the unknown, making a calculated loss or the joys of an eye-balled profit.

 In the meanwhile, follow us Summer Oddity on Instagram, make a purchase, make my day!

Have a good one!

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