Glory Udom: Leveraging on #BuyMadeInNigeriaGoods Glory Udom, a graduate of Microbiology from the University of Uyo, decided to create a job for herself rather than wait to be employed. She started making jewelries and, today, Dache Pearls, her brand name, has become a household name in the South-South region of Nigeria where she resides. Starting up… The day you make up your mind to start a business is the day you begin a journey of faith. You don’t get to see what happens the next day and the day after, but you get to think it, work at it and pray it forward. Being an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as some people think. If it was, we would have a high number of job opportunities created by entrepreneurs. Starting is easy to say but maintaining focus and engaging the right people needed, is tough. Everyone wants to be paid for a service and, as a start-up, your budget is really nothing when strategies of how to raise working capital are not in place. Sometimes, the strategies are right but reality fails you. That is how the system is and, that is why, above all strategies, I had to fall back on God, because the grace I’ve enjoyed is beyond my strategies. I had the passion to do beads since 2004, but decided to go professional in 2014. So, officially, Dache Pearls came aboard in 2014. I was interested in doing something different, so, I decided, that if I must carve a niche for myself, I had to get it right. So far, this has helped me stand out from the crowd. Also, I turned down an opportunity to work in the Civil Service, so as to keep up with my passion and talent. My start was actually a transition. My hobby became my passion, my passion became a possibility for me to earn from the services rendered and products produced. Challenges… For most start-ups, capital is always the problem. In my case, though, it was different. All I needed was clients. I started with making ‘custom orders’ and making beads for myself, family members and close friends that believed in me. Family and friends brought clients who wanted the beads, after seeing the ones I’d made for them. I had to continue making ‘custom orders’ and bespoke jewelry. Initially, it looked as if there were clients were all everywhere, but, when you check the number of school leavers who are not gainfully employed, the level of creativity increases, as ends must be met. Everybody is doing something. Like any other entrepreneur, another challenge was getting funds for projects aimed at entering new markets. The downward trend in the economy seems to be having a hold on everybody, so it was not too easy, but, with determination and perseverance I was able to stay afloat. The industry is nearly saturated, therefore, the challenges are enormous. Before you finish negotiating with a client, two or more people are queuing behind you to talk to him about the same thing. All you have to do is give good prices and deliver a unique product. Standing out… I focused on projects that needed low funding but had high impact, using profits to re-invest in the company. I decided to be my own marketer by adorning myself with the beads I made. I also made for friends and close relatives. This helped in creating awareness for my products. It served as a form of advertisement. We then focused on products that didn’t require high funding but high impacts, using profits to re-invest in the company. Secondly, making the beads to order was another strategy. I utilised social media to also help me reach out to clients nationwide. This made my clientele base increase. So far, business has been profitable. It’s great fun to do what you have passion for, plus the fact that I can work all day without feeling stressed. Last year, I got an award from Kardynal Style Selection as the most creative accessories designer fpr the year 2014. So far, I have trained over 100 persons on the art. These trainees are issued with certificates. They are like disciples, sent into the world to make beads. Projecting into the future... I see Dache Pearls having high market shares within and outside Nigeria. Our plans are short and long term, so we are creating projects to make jewelry easier to make, buy and wear via our online store which would be launched soon. The future holds great things for Dache Pearls and everyone who is a positive-thinker. We believe that in the next five years we would have penetrated into all the nooks and crannies of Southern Nigeria and beyond. We are not grandstanding. Seeing where we are coming from and how far we have gotten, the sky will be our base. We see Dache Pearls having high market shares within and outside the shores of Nigeria. Words for aspiring entrepreneurs… Read, strategise and leverage your goals with workable projects. Target local investors, who have interest in your kind of business. It’s an opportunity to leverage on the Federal Government’s #BuyMadeInNigeriaGoods. Everybody seems to be looking inwards. This way, I’m certain over dependency on the government will reduce. Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can.