For Kuda, the 18-year-old founder of KudaRachel, failing to find a reasonably priced corsage for her high school prom proved to be a blessing in disguise; it birthed the idea of creating her own. The then 17-year-old learned through trial and error before finally perfecting the hand-made corsages and boutonnieres. After seeing her daughter’s creative invention, Kuda’s mother suggested that she sell them, which Kuda did. “I posted photos on facebook and 12 people bought from me! The fact that people wore the work of my hands on such a huge night of their life filled me with immense pride and happiness.”
Realising that corsages were only a seasonal thing, Kuda embarked on another great idea, extending to African print accessories. “African prints were the perfect choice because they can be worn in any season. The idea to venture into African accessories came at a perfect time my mother was preparing to go to Zimbabwe for the first time in 6 years. I happened to have $50AUD in my bank account which I gave to her to buy me African print fabrics. ’’
Product differentiation is an essential element in business and KR fashion’s specialty factor is that each product is customer oriented not just mass produced. As Kuda says, time and effort are spent on each KR piece and they pay attention to detail. “I used to be so focused on my competitors until I realised that everyone is different and that no idea under the sun is new. Everything is just a different version of the original! We may make the same things but we each have our own visions therefore, we’ll each have our own target markets. I really do believe in the saying, ‘There is space for everyone at the top.’”
Kuda also shares that she connects with other people in the same line of business as her to share ideas. She even sometimes provides fabrics from her suppliers to them. Obtaining fabrics is a major challenge in the business as she claims that the fabrics in Australia a super expensive hence outsourcing them is the better alternative even though large shipping costs are incurred in the process.
Giving back where it counts
KudaRachel is not just concerned with making profits but fuses social entrepreneurship as well. The social enterprise is visionary and has three main aims which it is committed to. “KR aims to make a difference in people’s lives through fashion. I want fashion to be able to pay for someone’s education or put food on the table for someone in need! KR supports a charity each year.” Since its
Since its inception, KR has been supporting Act for Peace by donating 50% of profits from its KR merchandise collection. Kuda further adds on, “In 2016, I represented KudaRachel and did a ration challenge where I got sponsored to eat the same rations of food that a Syrian refugee would eat for a whole week. So far we have raised AUD$439 worth of donations and sales from the KR Merchandise.”
Concerned with youth development among its social aims, KR provides opportunities to upcoming talent. Having realised one the main difficulties young people face when looking for jobs is concerned with experience, KR gives them a chance to build their portfolio since most big corporations turn them out. Currently, the business team is made up of 2 main photographers; Feranmi Taiwo and Kelsey Grant, 2 seamstresses, and the models and make-up artists who rotate according to the type of shoot they are holding.
The KR website is also a wall of positivity filled with quotes and the blog journey of the KRfam. This is just one of the many platforms KR uses to interact with its clients. The evolution of marketing hasn’t been the same with the arrival of social media marketing. Kuda certainly lets in that it has had tremendous benefits on growing the business. “Social media plays a big role in bringing clients, we use Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram a lot (just type Kudarachel in all of them). Through them, we have managed to attract customers from countries such as USA and UK.
Hustling while being a full-time student
As a full-time nursing student, it is a wonder how Kuda manages to keep her business afloat, especially when the two industries; fashion business and nursing are so unrelated. She credits the success of the business to a lot of time invested in financial education. She has taken it upon herself to learn as much as she can about the business aspect.
“I read a lot of books and blog posts by people I look up to; Daymond John – “The Power of Broke”, Janine Allis – “The Juicy Bit”, Sophia Amoruso – “Girl Boss” and of course SheleadsAfrica blog..DUH ahahA. Everything I have learnt so far is through the internet, books, other people and trial and error. I’m excited to keep on learning. It also helps that I have a mentor Alyce Schlothauer who is helping me with my overall branding strategy while Shingai Manjengwa advises me on how to run my business.”
Kuda certainly credits the success of the venture to the entire KRFAM’s support which is made up of her customers, her mother, friends, and family. She had to sacrifice a lot of her time in order for KR to succeed, cut back on going out and invest instead on special events such as friends’ birthdays.Everything I have learnt so far is through the internet, books, other people and trial and error Click To Tweet
Embark on business for the right reasons
Her last tips for budding entrepreneurs, “It’s really hard work to be honest. Being your own boss means that when you are starting out, normally your funds are limited hence if you don’t do it yourself, no one else will. You will have to wear the hats of a cleaner, secretary, salesperson etc. When people look at KudaRachel, they see the beautiful models in gorgeous clothing with hair and make-up on fleek. What they don’t see is the sleepless nights I’ve had to think and create it all.
“They don’t see the long trips I take by bus to search things for clients or my mother sacrificing her precious time to drive me places because I am still working on getting my license or the struggle of working in a small bedroom.” Her advice to anyone starting out is to embark on a business for the right reasons not solely because they want to be their own boss or to make money. “Anyone can start a business can start a business but the real test is to see if you can be dedicated enough to continue working on it through the challenges even when the revenue doesn’t come to you immediately.”
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