Guest Blog byBenadatte Kaggwa When it comes to business, or one's career for that matter, no one likes to hear the dreadful word 'failure'; everyone likes a success story, even though the greatest stories of triumph come from repeated failed attempts, several reinvented ideas, and a strong willpower not to give up.
That, my friends, is the story of Nnunji - a unique brand name of handmade accessories that operates as an online store. Nnunji is an ethnic term that means 'nice' in Luganda, my native language. Now, you may be wondering why I'm saying "third time's the charm"; well, to put it simply, Nnunji is a third attempt at setting up an online platform for marketing local handmade accessories targeting today's personable lady of style. Here's the story...
It was two years back, while working at a local Investment Bank, when my former colleague infused in me this idea of having a side business to give ourselves extra income; and so the idea was born - I would set up a centralized online platform to direct the traffic of ladies who expressed interest in my love for accessorizing. That saw the first "online store" I personally designed through a Web builder platform, Kenya Business Online. I decided to call my new-found business 'ImageEtiquette', as it was meant to enhance a lady's personal image whilst providing her with tips on general feminine etiquette, among others.
Let's just say it was a total flop (notice how I'm avoiding to use the dreaded word 'failure'? well, you understand I'm sure...); reason being, not only was the "online store" not up to standard in terms of modern Web sites, the product selection was mixed up and less than appealing. I had both ethnic and contemporary designs, whereas my main aim was to feature only ethnic, handmade styles. Eventually I registered my own domain name, designed a modernized Web site which incorporated some e-Commerce features – after all, I wanted to process orders and payments online – and in a few months’ time I opened shop, so to speak.
I'll give myself a pat on the back seeing as I managed at least one international order; that aside, it was another disaster to put it plainly. The Web site wasn't optimized, no online traffic was being directed to the store, and the aesthetic appeal of the product images left much to be desired. Once again, failure came knocking without a formal invitation! Anyway, I looked around the Net for other online stores, mostly at those that were set up using purely e-Commerce applications. By this time, I was a full-time Web Designer (my line of professional training), having since left the Investment Bank. It became apparent that most online stores were designed on such applications as OpenCart, Zen Cart, etc. I opted for OpenCart as it was user-friendly and versatile.
My success story started writing itself at this point: I reinvented the whole idea of marketing handmade accessories - from giving it an ethnic brand name, sharpening the visual display of all product images, to having item prices in both local and foreign currency, and finally integrating the online order processing and payment systems with the Web site. I went a step further and created a real brand, using handmade designer tags and gift pouches for packaging the ornamental range of accessories. After the official launch of the online store in November 2013 through social media networks, a vigorous marketing campaign was embarked on (with the help of a business associate), which resulted in instant sales both locally and internationally by the close of the year. I had finally come to experience the truth to these words, 'Third Time's The Charm', and a real charm it has been so far!
Benadatte Kaggwa, or simply Bena as she prefers to be called, is a former Client Service & Operations Consultant, who worked in an Investment Bank for almost 5 years and holds a diploma in Web Design. She is now a professional Web Designer, currently setting up an online magazine (ImageEtiquette Advisory) whilst managing her online store, Nnunji.