How Kasule established a profitable clothing line

Sunday July 12 2020

Douglas Kasule has managed to convince

Douglas Kasule has managed to convince stakeholders in the Ugandan film industry to promote his cloth line. Photo by Gabriel Buule 

By Gabriel Buule

Years ago after rising to fame following his participation in NTV’s popular television drama series called NTV tricksters, Douglas Kasule made film his Job. He acted, mentored and is now claiming authority in branding garments and other marketing materials for fellows in the film industry.

Kasule’s choice to venture into the marketing and branding industry had been inspired by the mother who used to call his name in a purely localised to that instead of calling him Douglas she would simply cut it short and call him (Daaga). “She would call me out saying “Owange ono Daaga” he recalls.
Kasule took to the same trend to call fellows in the film industry by a similar version that instead of calling a name Samuel he would localise it in Luganda to pronounce Samwili.

Kasule says that much as his peers felt so western that even their works had been influenced by films in Hollywood and other western industries but Uganda’s film industry can only break-through if we tell our own stories.
“We are who we are right from our names, a Ugandan will never say Paul but rather Pawulo” he adds.
Putting the above into consideration Kasule started by making branded polo shirts and Jumpers with localised naming style Keleya for Claire under his brand called Ono Daaga.

ONO YENZE, one of Kasules’ popular labels seeks to tell people not to be shy about the way they pronounce words depending on their mother-tongue especially the names and foreign words.
“For example; Morpel was changed into Mapeera, Michael became Mikayiri, Charles became Kalooli, Douglas became Daaga, Shirt is esaati, and shock absorbers is sakabuzoba” he adds.

His idea is that everyone will pronounce foreign words depending on how easy their mother tongue can roll them.

The French, British, Italian, Kenyans all have a way they pronounce names such as Henry, Charles in their versions “so why can’t we be proud of our accents too. I print those local pronunciations of names and words onto t-shirts and jumpers to show that we are proud to sound the words depending on where we come from” he explains
This year, his quest was ignited with social media to do publicity for film while selling out his garments birthing a trendy attire dubbed Making UG films Famous where he designs T-shirts, jumpers, tops and other attires bearing words Making UG films Famous .
“My project started as a social media hash tag and later grew into merchandise that I sell to people. I make merchandise branding under my label called ONO YENZE,” he says.


Making money
After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in drama from Makerere University, Kasule unsuccessfully looked for formal employment for three years. He eventually gave up and decided to go into business.
He started off with capital worth Shs100,000 which he had saved from the cameo roles when he featured NTV’s tricksters drama series. “Small as my capital was, it was enough to get my business running because I only needed to buy fabric and pay the tailor who made the first few attires. I sold the clothes online and after one year, my business was growing.”

From that small amount, and after many years of financial hardships, Kasule’s venture is now up and running.
He started realising profits three years after he started out, and the revenue has continued to grow steadily since then.

Friends and family have been very helpful in Kasule’s business journey. “My friend Tal Peter Simpson is my biggest financier so far. He supports me unconditionally and buys into all my investment ideas, as long as they are viable,” he reveals.
Currently, Kasule makes more than 100 garments in a month which includes T-shirts ), jumpers, hoodies , sweater shirts, thermal flasks, cups and soon introducing caps, vests, umbrellas, dress-shirts and scarfs

He says his T-shirts go for Shs15,000, Shs25,000 with jumpers and hoodies sold between Shs45,000 and Shs50,000. The sweater shirts are sold at Shs35,000. In a good month, Kasule can make up to Shs5m as profit.
He has not given up on expanding his business. The youthful entrepreneur plans to build a good relationship with various lenders so that he can someday access huge loans. “Anyone can run this business as long as you have enough capital and a good location,” says Kasule.

Kasule uses film to promote his cloth line
Kasule uses film to promote his cloth line business

Virtual shop
Kasule is not ready to rent out space in Kampala because he is conducting his business online.
“I sell these garments to mostly women on Instagram, who give me referrals regularly. At first, my biggest challenge was how to market my products online. In fact, I’m still trying to reach a larger audience,” he says.
“I run the business online. People order, I print and deliver to them. I print with a printing company called Reign Printing & Branding on Mini Price. It’s a small company of about six people and they give good quality products for my clients,” he explains.

Human capital remains his biggest asset. Kasule is not a qualified tailor. He is just a designer, who entirely relies on tailors to bring his sketches to life.
“This arrangement is quite expensive, but it works for me. I’m also happy that I am creating employment opportunities for other people.”

If Kasule could go back in time, he would avoid making too many pieces of the same design, because this always left him with a lot of dead stock. “Nowadays, my customers make their orders in advance, and this has greatly helped me minimise on losses. I’m one of the few lucky entrepreneurs who have never borrowed loans, and I remain optimistic that my business will continue to grow,” he says.

Kasule is however, proud of the progress he has made so far. “I am now financially independent, which is something I have always wanted. I plan to enrol for a business related course to further develop my skills and knowledge in business. I have encountered many people who have difficulty entrusting their money with young people. They always assume that young entrepreneurs will misuse the funds, which isn’t always the case. This makes it difficult for young people to sell an idea or pitch it to investors, and discourages them from getting into business. Young people also face great difficulties when securing loans from government institutions due to lack of collateral,” Kasule says.
Kasule has a word of caution to all aspiring entrepreneurs: “They should know that expanding their businesses without having the necessary revenue will only lead to failure.”

Start with whatever small amount you have and aim to grow it. Just start doing what you love. Get moving. But while at it, be honest and know your financial capabilities. If you can only afford a few employees, or to rent space in a low cost area, do that. Do not overstretch yourself..

Working hard
“Now that I have been in it for four years, I know that social skills such as good communication and networking, are key. I have now built a strong financial base through saving and reinvesting, and that is how I have managed to keep up with the increasing market demands and acquire more clients. I have also learnt that saving calls for a lot of discipline,” he says.

Tips for success in business

The business world is continually evolving. Gone are the days when companies could operate in the same way year after year and hope for the same results. Following the birth of the internet, and given that consumers now have more options than ever before when it comes to making purchases, businesses have to continually update their methods, products and services to remain relevant.
Regardless of industry or sector, businesses will not survive unless they are willing to adapt, and that means keeping on top of the latest trends and approaches. So, with that in mind, here are the business trends you need to keep an eye on if you want to thrive in the years to come.

New methods of lending
Did you know that a staggering four out of every five small business loan applications are turned down? With that being the case, it is hardly surprising that many ambitious entrepreneurs are looking at different ways of getting the money they need to grow their businesses.
Many of these lending services have been designed to help businesses get their hands on money quickly, and tend to have very simple application processes. However, some of them require relatively large repayments quickly, so if you are considering a lender that is not a traditional bank, weigh up your options carefully.

A focus on personalisation
In years to come, everything that can be personalised will be personalised. According to research, a whopping 96 per cent of marketers believe that personalisation is very important when it comes to marketing. On top of that, four out of every five people say that they are more likely to deal with a company that offers a personalised experience.
If you have been able to accumulate data from your consumers, then it will be much easier for you to provide content that they genuinely want to consume, and you will also be able to offer them product suggestions based on previous purchasing habits.

Subscription services
According to research, subscription services grow by around one per cent every month. There are any number of niches that businesses can exploit, and if they are marketed in the right way and to the right people, they can be very lucrative. Research has found that businesses with subscription services are capable of growing their revenues almost six times quicker than businesses without subscriptions, so it is certainly an approach worth contemplating.

Business cards
Business cards may seem old fashioned nowadays, given that more and more business is done digitally, but you should not underestimate their ability to enhance your business. Handing out business cards can actually help increase business performance by as much as 2.5 per cent for every 2,000 handed out.

And a quality business card can also help your organisation’s sustainability efforts.
By creating a business card that is both high in quality and valuable to potential customers and clients, you can ensure that you are not contributing to the 50 per cent of waste produced by businesses that is comprised of paper.