- Devine Collections founder and CEO Mercy Maluli said starting a business does not require much capital; she had just KSh 5,000 pocket money when she started
- Maluli revealed she ventured into fashion, selling men’s boxers and socks, while still in college and her business recorded tremendous growth because of her determination
- She said she sold men’s clothes because the clients are loyal and patient when it comes to meeting quality
Owning a successful business is everyone’s dream, especially when you are a young and daring woman who aspires to change the world using her money.
But not many young people realise this dream, and one of the reasons may be because they did not find a niche market where their businesses could grow and thrive.
Divine Collections founder
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In an exclusive interview with TUKO.co.ke, Mercy Maluli, founder and chief executive officer of Divine Collections, one of the largest stores for luxury menswear in Kenya, indicated identifying your niche market is very important.
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Maluli, who now doubles as a real estate developer, explained that she chose to deal in men’s clothes because men are loyal and patient.
“I used to do ladies while in school because it was convenient to move around in girls hostels and sell. Men are easy to convince, unlike women who will tell you I have this brand I want, I know the shop I go for,” said Maluli at her shop in Yaya Center, Nairobi.
She started while in college
Maluli said she started her business while on campus and that she was a fashion model during her First Year. She used her pocket money, KSh 5,000 to be exact.
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“I started going to Gikomba market to get some mtumba tops for ladies. At 4 am, I could wake up and head to the market. I loved Mtumba so much. I was to make sure that I am back in school at 10 am to attend my classes,” she said.
By the time Maluli was done with college, the market had changed, and the competition had become stiff, so she turned to men’s socks and boxers, and the business started booming.
“I could make a profit of KSh 50,000 per month,” said Maluli, adding that selling menswear was easy because she could focus on one customer at a time.
“I started handling one client at a time. I could spend the KSh 50,000 profit doing quality shopping depending on the client order. The returns were crazy. I could get 100% profit back. I could get a nice trouser and shirt for $2 dollars and sell it easily to the client.”
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Kenya’s fashion industry is competitive
According to Maluli, the fashion industry in Kenya is competitive with women taking a centre stage in the market.
The competition, she said, kept her going as she continued challenging herself. Looking at her competitors, she knew that there was no time to rest.
Maluli said she talked to friends who became customers and brought more clients to the shop, and she marketed the business without expecting much from it.
“Networking is the key to unlocking your friend. If you have five friends, talk to them and let them tell their friends too.”
“You also need to understand your customers. What I look for in business is customer relations and not profit. Listening to their views and complaints has enabled me to thrive, even during tough times like the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Maluli is passionate about touching lives and going forward she plans to open up more branches and venture into the manufacturing line to create more jobs.
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“I will be opening new branches, I want to create jobs for over 1,000 people. I feel great when I touch a life. I will bring the productions in Turkey and Italy here in Kenya,” she said.
She advised startups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to focus, work hard and be disciplined to be able to succeed in a competitive market.
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