‘It’s Best Being Your Own Boss’
Hope Monye is an entrepreneur of repute in the fashion industry whose business is to help develop and add value to other businesses. She recently spoke to ADEDAYO SHOWEMIMO on how she successfully runs the now famous Kubechi’s Closet Fair
What is your background?
I’m Hope Monye, a Nigerian from Onicha-Ugbo, Aniocha North in Delta State. I was born in Ajaokuta in present day Kogi State but, I grew up in Lagos. I started my education at the Maryland Convent Private School in Lagos. From there, I proceeded to Immaculate Heart Comprehensive High School also in Lagos. I studied International Relations at the Lagos State University, LASU and I am the CEO of Kubechi Conceptz: a fashion, life style and events management outfit. I am a fashion designer and also the organiser of the Kubechi Conceptz’s Closet Fair.
What kind of business are you into?
Kubechi Conceptz is a fashion and lifestyle brand that celebrates young entrepreneurs. Kubechi Closet Fair is a fashion show that helps young fashion designers, wholesalers and retailers create awareness for their goods and services while also ensuring that shoppers get the best quality at the best possible price and all these within the comfortable ambience of reputable establishments as it is believed that this will add value and service to the high-class shoppers to make it a truly one-stop shopping experience and delight for them. So, I really am in a business that adds value to designers, retailers and especially shoppers.
How did you come up with the idea and then arrive at the decision to turn your idea into reality?
I felt a need to expand my business beyond the ‘friends’ zone and that was where the idea of ‘The Closet Fair’ came in. I thought it would be a good idea to create a platform to bring other young entrepreneurs like me to showcase our products and creativity. Linda Ikeji, Ebonix Pictures,Saycheese Cakes and Swe bar lounge were the major support I got from the very first edition. The growth and success of the fair required us to get a bigger space and that led to us moving the fair from Swe Bar to a bigger spot still within the City Mall. Since the first show, we have also enjoyed massive media support from the likes of Ovation magazine, Exquisite, City People, Linda Ikeji’s blog, Spicetv, Ontv, ThisDay, Olorisupergal, 360nobs, Omojuwa, Deevasworld to name a few.
What was the attraction for you?
The attraction for me was and still is the desire to see young businesses grow and to encourage young entrepreneurs. I like the fact that we can showcase and support people’s creativity to the extent that everyone is happy and are always looking forward to the next edition of the fair because it adds value to their lives. Yes; that was and still is the attraction for me.
How long ago did you establish the company?
Kubechi Conceptz started in 2012. I know it’s hard to believe with how far we’ve come in so short a time but that was actually when the idea fully evolved into reality.
Is it lucrative?
Yes it is lucrative, but more importantly are the smiles that I put on people’s faces, the satisfaction that they derive from doing business with us and us with them and the compliments that we get every so often by people who benefit from and appreciate what we do.
Why are you an entrepreneur?
It comes with the training basically and especially if you know what you are doing. For me, it’s inevitable that I should be an entrepreneur. It’s the only way that I can get my ideas across without undue interference from people who [with due respect] may have their own great ideas too. That could happen if I worked as an employee for someone with their own ideas. I want my interaction to be basically between me and my clientele because every client has their own ideas too, you know. So, between my ideas, my client’s ideas and the means to getting things done stands the entrepreneur in me.
Have you ever had a situation you felt, you couldn’t go ahead with the business?
I always knew that businesses take time to grow and so my initial focus was not on the financial rewards to be reaped in the business. I have been so busy building Kubechi Conceptz that I have not had the time to pause and consider that question but now that you ask, hmmm… definitely no. we started with branding and packaging, evolved into marketing and sales, now we are into designing, styling, marketing, packaging and sales. So, the business keeps growing and evolving into something bigger and better. Besides, I really love and enjoy what I’m doing, so, I do not think that there is an immediate need for any such consideration. The opportunities here are simply too enormous to walk away from.
What Challenges do you face in your line of business?
Time and finance are the major challenges for me. Finance to expand the business and time because I wish there were more hours in a day to do so much more. If you truly want to satisfy clients in this business, then you must be prepared to sacrifice enormous time and personal pleasures for them.
Do you have a role Model or someone with great influence upon your life?
There are a number of people that I really admire but my role models are my parents. They’ve been married for about thirty-five years now and they’ve created an enabling family environment for us their children to explore and nurture our gifts without undue interference.
What other plans do you have, looking into the future?
My plan is to continue to discover and promote young and emerging brands. I want to continue to create a unique market for all young brands including my own, give young entrepreneurs the needed exposure and train them in skills that will promote and sustain their businesses. I want to take the Kubechi Conceptz’s Closet Fair to the six geo-political zones of this country, take it to other African countries and generally showcase our young Nigerian entrepreneurs and brands all over the world. I am also looking at corporate sponsorship in the near future to take some of the load off me.
Many young graduates are waiting to be employed, how would you advise them?
I would advise them to look inwards and find something that they have a passion for and to do it. Look at me; I started with zero naira and I mean no financial support whatsoever. However, I had media support and other forms of encouragement from mostly young entrepreneurs who believed in my dreams: Linda Ikeji advertised for me, Ebonix contributed photographic support, CEO of SayCheese Cakes, Aisha Atta provided confectionaries, Dum Frazel provided editorial support, Francis Anwuli Monye, CEO of Hinansho Green provided IT support, Swe Bar and Lounge on the Island provided the venue and that was how I started. I would never have believed that it was possible to start a business with zero naira and build it to this level but I am a testimony to that reality and so I encourage them to apply their skills and gifts to solve social and societal problems because everyone has a unique gift.
What are the benefits of being self-employed?
Oh, the benefits are enormous. And so also are the challenges, though. One, you are your own boss which also means that you have no one to blame if you fall short of your own and other people’s expectations. Then, you can explore your own sense of creativity, decide which way you want your business to go and work hard at achieving your aims, you are able to impact on the lives of others more easily and if you do things right with God by your side, maybe retire early too to a really good life and watch your protégés excel while you are still alive.