Lenna Buxton is the founder and managing director of A Lenna Divas, a purely online ladies wear store.
I started my business as a side hustle. At the time, the company I was working for was facing financial problems which caused me to start thinking of a side hustle that could act as an emergency. I had been working for 5 years as Customer Care for a manufacturing company in Nairobi.
I love fashion and trends. This naturally became my go-to side hustle. In March 2019, I opened the A Lenna Divas online thrift shop with an initial capital of Sh. 20,000. Financial difficulties persisted at my employer’s business and we got salary delays that lasted for months.
These delays were the trigger. I resigned and decided to concentrate on my business full time. We now serve clients from as far as Uganda, Tanzania and even USA. This has been possible due to the visibility we get from Facebook paid ads and our specific target market.
I started seeing some good sales, increased publicity and visibility, and repeat clients after two years of being in business. Today, the business has grown to an extent where we are offering both retail and wholesale, and bale sales as well. We are also offering training to rookie entrepreneurs joining this field for up to three months. This can be a challenging business.
About two months after starting my business with one bale, I was so excited to scale up and got conned Sh. 20,000 while trying to get a second bale. This could have shut me down were it not for an empathetic entrepreneur who lent me their bale to avoid closure.
This line of business can also be a sea of disappointment due to poor bale qualities. Being an online store, the business was initially vulnerable to attacks by con customers and customers who were reluctant to commit because they’d been conned elsewhere.
I once joined a table banking group and invested all my cash. The plan was to earn interests at the end of every year. However, I ended up losing Sh. 56,000 because of defaulters and poor group management. I have since learned my lesson. Nowadays, if it’s not a registered program with different signatories, I will not invest in it.
If I could start afresh, I would engage in more intensive marketing. I would put my business policies in order from the onset. This would save me on sympathy selling that had me running into losses in my early days, and misunderstandings between my customers and I.
I use the Paybill method of money transactions in my business. This way, cash transactions go directly to my business account. I also utilize well-structured table banking groups that are legally licensed to expand my financial resources.
For instance, with my current table banking group, I know that I am in a position to access financial for expansion if I choose to open a physical branch for my business.
When one door closes, another opens. This is not a cliché. If you have a good plan and aren’t afraid to go after what you want, chances that you will succeed are high. In any case, the experience will not leave you the same way.
Money is never enough; be disciplined, plan and budget for every penny you make. The market is big for all of us to fit in. Don’t try to squeeze every one out. Listen to every advice but choose which one will work for you for your growth.
A version of this profile feature on Lenna Buxton was also published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.