What’s in a bag?
Josh Adeyemi was working as an accountant in a company and he couldn’t but notice the delight his female colleagues got from buying bags. “The excitement that bags bring to women was stamped further in my mind whenever I got a new bag for my wife,” he enthused. “The gratitude she displayed with every bag I got her was remarkable. It seemed one could never get it wrong with bags.” Josh’s growing interest in women’s bags coincided with a period of growth in the e-commerce industry, another trend that interested him too. When he merged both interests, another Nigerian Hustle was borne. “I ordered 18 bags from abroad, and before they arrived, I put them on an e-commerce site. Shockingly the bags were sold out long before they were even to arrive. That was when I saw the future.”
To begin his new future, Josh put his Accounting Job in his past and decided to pursue the bag business full time. But he was low on funds. “After paying for my house rent that year, I only had N250,000 which I used to buy a laptop and Mifi. My zeal to pursue the entrepreneurial path was further shaken when another company offered me a job as a CFO (chief financial officer), a position I had always yearned for in the corporate world. I was tempted to quit, take the CFO Job offer, work for some years and maybe pursue my entrepreneurial dream sometime in the future, but I chose to take the bull by the horn and forge ahead.”
Josh decided to tap into his saved pension fund. He wrote to his Pension Fund and got 25 percent of his pension which amounted to 500,000 Naira. With this he launched Leisure Stores, an e-commerce business focused on ladies fashion, particularly bags. Today, Josh has no qualms about his business decision. “Despite how tough it seemed at the beginning, I have no regrets,” he says. However, he has had some challenges.
Running an online business might seem less stressful than having a physical store, but it does come with unique set of tough nuts. “The biggest challenge of my business is getting companies to deliver nationwide,” Josh laments. With orders coming from all over the country, the logistics of delivery has been a nail biting issue for him. “It’s even tougher because I am dealing with different e-commerce platforms, Josh says. “I try to take a very detailed and disciplined approach to keep track of all of them, but sometimes that is not even enough.”
Josh is also having to deal with customers’ trust issues in local online shopping. While some customers tend to pay online and are mostly satisfied with the products, others can be a little more difficult. “Some customers want to see pictures of a bag from every possible angle before ordering and it’s not unusual for some to return bags, for little to no explained reasons,” he says. His approach to overcoming this challenge is to win customers’ trust one purchase at a time; ensuring that his customers see exactly what they will get, and that all his products are of great quality. Josh is also seeking to partner local bag makers, but the outcome hasn’t been so great. The last time we tried local producers, the job took three months to complete and the final product wasn’t up to expectation. So, for now, we are still stuck with importing.”
Where Leisure Stores has made great success is in social media. “Facebook and WhatsApp have been our most productive media platform. Through them we have built a community. We don’t focus much on e-mails in order not to bombard our clients with too much information.”
The SME MarketHub has also been another major pillar of Joshua’s success. “I remember my first experience with SME MarketHub. We had just put up our products on the site and the link to our site was posted by the SME MarketHub on their twitter page. What followed was an avalanche of orders and requests. I was in church and my phone kept beeping. Whenever we have new products, the SME MarketHub is the first place we put our goods. It still amazes me how we are not asked for commissions despite all the promotion we get.”
From a startup capital of N500,000, Josh says Leisure Stores has grown into a business worth millions. “I have the ladies to thank for much of that,” says Josh. “Ladies shop differently from guys. A guy accesses our store and buys what he wants and leaves but a lady is more likely to call her friends and sisters. We have a client who has bought everything in our store on three different occasions, she buys them for her sisters and friends”
Josh hopes to branch into shoes very soon and possibly other fashion items. With his passion and determination, it could soon become a matter of when, not if, every Nigerian lady, would have something from Leisure Stores in their wardrobe.