Gemzen, a jewellery and personal shopping store, is owned by Nafiu Damilola Modupe. Damilola has an accounting diploma from the Lagos State Polytechnic and a linguistics degree from the University of Ibadan. Damilola became an entrepreneur because she wanted to spend her free time doing something productive.
Damilola has always been a jewellery lover, a self-proclaimed jewellery addict, so it’s no surprise that she got into the jewellery business. She believed it would be easier to start a business selling something she loved than it would be to start a business selling something else. Coupled with the fact that jewellery has no end, there is always something fresh to catch your eye.
Damilola had decided to start a business, but how did she make it a reality? She walks us through how she started her brand, from the ideation process to establishing the business.
“I was considering what I could do to earn extra money from the comfort of my own home. So far, I’ve tried a variety of things, including selling thrift shoes, thrift clothing, and personal shopping, but they’ve all been time-consuming and frustrating as hell. Then I took a break for almost two years before returning to selling jewelry. I used to sell jewelry but had to stop because I wasn’t generating as many sales as I expected. Perhaps it was because I began without a strategy at the time, but after conducting extensive studies, reading business strategy books, and rebalancing my mental state, I decided to go all in this time”.
Starting a business has certain hurdles, which are exacerbated by the Nigerian factor. Damilola discussed some of the difficulties she faces as a Nigerian entrepreneur with us.
“My number one challenge is the rising dollar rate.” Sourcing products from outside the country has become a difficult task because, once I’ve sold my inventory, restocking is usually difficult as prices will have risen”.
Gemzen, like other businesses and brands in this day and age, uses social media to sell its products and services. Damilola has an Instagram business profile for Gemzen, where she posts about its products and services while also establishing a customer base.
When it comes to online businesses, trust is crucial. People want to know that they can rely on a company to deliver. Damilola explains how she was able to earn her customers’ trust in Gemzen.
“Wow, it’s always been stressful, but I really understand their concerns because I’m often afraid of patronizing others as well. I remember a customer requesting a video call with me, and I had no choice but to agree because I didn’t want to lose my client base”.
The current hike in the price of everything has affected most businesses. Damilola says it has also impacted her business. “It has not been easy because the price you stock up at week 1 will definitely not be the same at week 2. Two weeks ago, I sold a steel leg chain for
N1,500, and in the space of two weeks, the same leg chain is now sold for N2,500. So, getting my clients to understand the situation is always a tedious job, as some will think I just want to rip them off”.
Damilola, being a superwoman, also has a full-time job where she works Mondays through Fridays and occasionally on Saturdays, but thankfully her siblings help out with the business, particularly with delivery.
On what makes her unique, she answers, “With me, what you see is what you get. I don’t filter things, and I deliver the next day after payment is confirmed. I also have a refund and return policy for people that wish to do that (it’s not a do or die affair with me)”. In a time when most businesses on social media, particularly Instagram, have “No Refund” prominently displayed on their profiles, Damilola has made Gemzen stand out by being different from the norm.
From the insights she has gathered on her journey so far, Nafiu Damilola Modupe shared some advice for other potential entrepreneurs. “If you must go into business, do what you love, because that will make everything seem easy, even if you are struggling”.
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