Kelechi Anyadiegwu a Nigerian based in New York started her online African clothing store Zuvaa with $500 two years ago. Her idea was to share African-inspired designs with consumers around the world. The name ‘Zuvaa’ comes from ‘Zuva’ which means sun or sunshine in the language of the Shona people from Zimbabwe and this start-up company is estimated to make $2 million in sales in 2016.
What started with a compliment turned one young woman’s idea into a million dollar business.
“I didn’t really know what I was getting into, I just had a vision and I was excited about where that would take me. As a woman of Nigerian descent, I grew up with African prints and fabrics. I loved wearing African inspired designs, and whenever I did wear these pieces, people wanted to know how they could also shop African inspired prints.” She said.
Passion + Expertise = A winning formula
Kelechi got the realization that instead of referring her curious customers to the designers she knew, there was business opportunity knocking at the door.
“I decided to use my skills in social media marketing and online community building, to create a platform that would provide more exposure for the talented African-inspired fashion designers I knew existed around the world,” she said.
After studying User Experience Design in the U.S., she combined her passion for representing Africa on the world stage, her keen eye for design and tech expertise.
“Zuvaa brought together everything I was ever interested in. My love for Africa, my interest in fashion and my skills in technology. I’ve always been a techie. I’m very interested in how technology and design could be used to change lives.” She said
Kelechi has been very vocal about the fact that she did not want a traditional 9 to 5 job. She persisted with so much determination.
“My days are a lot longer than 9-5, from when I wake up to when I go to sleep, I’m working on Zuvaa. If I’m not directly working on Zuvaa, I’m definitely thinking about it.”
Kelechi predicts Zuvaa is on track to make $2 million in gross sales this year, she says this could only have happened with a clear vision.
Her success has already landed her on the Forbes 30 under 30 list.
“My biggest piece of advice is to trust your vision. Your vision for your life and company are really going to be what makes you stand out. No one is going to be able to see this vision, that’s what makes it so special. That’s what will set you apart from others, that’s what will make every morning exciting to work and build your company.” Kelechi advises
Now, how can we encourage and support more women in Africa?