We belong to an educational system where lecturers teach you about entrepreneurship but don’t really expect you to engage in any other activity while you are still in school (well,not all but some of them actually).I met Enwereji Chidinma on Instagram and was drawn to the touch of excellence and originality on her products.The 20 year old lady is a final year student of the University of Port Harcourt and is doing a great job of running a business as a full time student. A time for an interview was scheduled with her and we got talking about her brand and passion for fashion.
In her words…
How it all began:
I lost my mum in 2014 and was thrown into grief .An aunt suggested I attend a skills acquisition program instead of staying at home and crying and I reluctantly went for it. It was not something I wanted to do,it was just a means of investing my time.There were lots of skills to be learnt but curiosity drew me to Ankara branding.After the training,I didn’t really put it into practice.My mom had previously worked in a bank and I used to make few ankara pieces and sell it to her colleagues and they would give me like 2000 naira just to support me.I saved up the money I made and got a Post-Utme form and used the rest for my pocket money.I stayed with my cousins so I didn’t have to worry about accommodation in school. The bank paid my fees in my 1st and 2nd years in school so that burden was taken away from my shoulders. The business was not moving as expected and jobs were coming in once in months.In 2015,I went for another training and developed passion for ankara branding although I didn’t get what I wanted from that training. I went back to my mom’s colleagues in 2016 and begged them to sponsor me for another skill acquisition training in Lagos and they agreed. I returned with great passion for the business after learning from @heseydesigns, I got a boom in sales and was able to pay for a self-contained apartment and a sewing machine.
How do you combine school and your business?
I do everything about school(assignments,reading,meeting my supervisor etc) during the day and work at night. I don’t go for night classes and stop work 1 month to exams.
How long does it take to make one bag?
It takes 5 to 6 hours.
How do you make the bags?
I make the bags first before branding with ankara.
How much does each bag cost?
The lowest price of my bags is 2500 naira and the highest price is 8000 naira.
What can you not do without while working?
Music or gisting.
Age of your target market:
Students and young women aged 18-24 years old.
How do you get most of your customers?
Through referrals and exhibitions.
Who is your biggest support?
My family and friends.
What is your motivation?
The God-factor ,the drive to make my mother proud and passion to break the norm that a young girl must go the illegal way to survive.
Where do you see yourself in the next 3 years?
I should have a physical store,I should have swallowed Port Harcourt city and there should be Kalista bag in the hands of every girl.
Where did you get your brand name-Kalista brand?
From my name Calista,it is coined from a Greek word and it means ‘beautiful’.
How would you rate business in Port Harcourt?
Not so good.
What brand do you admire in Port Harcourt?
Mrs Ibinabo Amakiri the CEO of @creativeskillshub and @fro.nation because she has a free spirit,she is organised and is a supporter.
What is your advice to student entrepreneurs?
Put it out there,stop procrastinating and stop saying ‘because of school I can’t do it.’
How can we reach you?
0703443346, Enwereji Chidinma on Facebook and @Kalistabrand on Instagram
Do you have a unique story to tell or something you think young people need to know about?
Send a mail with the title: Feature on growingwomanblog to firstname.lastname@example.org
You are loved!