When Nancy Kukiriza got pregnant in 2016, she could not handle a demanding formal job that required her to be at work very early in the morning and spending long hours at work.
She decided to resign and signed up for a tailoring course at Somero Uganda, a vocational skilling organisation in Kazo, Bwaise in Kampala, which offered free training.
“At that time, my mother had a sewing machine which she bought at Shs400,000. However, she did not know how to operate it. Armed with knowledge and skills from the institute, I taught my mother how to tailor. This was the birth of our bridal and fashion designers company, which started at our veranda. We started making aprons, seeing that the women in the market offered ready market,” says Kukiriza.
Kukiriza says her love for fashion inspired her to venture into the design and fashion business. “I was also inspired by my mother who bought the machine out of love yet she did not know to use it. I believe this course was an indirect answer to what she envisioned for us; self-employment through a skill,” she adds.
In January, Kukiriza got rented space within Kalerwe market which they hire at Shs200,000 per month.
The business has also expanded from one machine to eight sewing machines, an overlock machine, an embroidery machine and other machines.
The need for the machines is inevitable if they are to expand their operations but the challenge is shortage of funds.
Kukiriza says: “We make aprons, uniforms whose prices depend on material and size as well as African fabric or Kitenge. We also rent out bridal attires.”
“We ensure that we always have an appealing display outside the shop and also talk about our business at church and other platforms. Besides the shop display, we also have a stall on the road with products to attract passers-by,” she adds.
Kukiriza and her mother have managed to grow the business to a point where they can employ other people and they are optimistic their business will continue growing since they invest profits back into the business.
Kukiriza says: “We are working towards expanding our business but some of the loans we access come with high interest rates, which affect business growth.
Yet, we cannot do without them because we do not have liquid cash readily available.”
Kukiriza also believes the location of her business affects their sales since most customers think quality goods and services are only found in urban places.
She says: “Although we are young and enterprising, we desire to grow and expand. That is why we keep generating new ideas. But the money to actualise our business ideas is not available.”
She adds: “Advertisement costs are also high yet they would like to advertise their products in the mainstream media.”
Kukiriza got an opportunity to attend Women in Business Mentorship training, where she learnt more about customer relations and retention, book keeping and decision-making.
With their business yet to be registered, Kukiriza hopes to have the formalisation done in the near future.
“I believe that this will help in increasing our customer base because they will trust us enough to seek our services.” She also desires to shift to a place that is more strategic and convenient for customers.
“Passion will drive you even when there are barely any sales. If you combine creativity with passion, that will keep your business thriving. There is also need to be persistent as hard times will hit and you cannot keep jumping from one business to another. Continually research about the business so that you remain relevant as trends keep changing, and most of all, have a positive attitude regardless of the challenges,” Kukiriza advises.