Indulgence Fashion CEO, Halima Ishola, gives a detailed breakdown of how she started her fashion business.
Starting a business is not as difficult as growing and maintaining the business, especially with fashion.
The fashion business is a competitive and hectic one. Today, you might be basking in the euphoria of running a successful fashion business, and tomorrow, you might be down the food chain, praying that people remember you exist and patronize you.
I wanted to talk to someone who runs a successful fashion store, built it from the ground up to having multiple chain stores in different locations in Nigeria. Halima Ishola, the simple, soft-spoken CEO of Indulgence Fashion, came to mind.
The business owner knows her onions about building and running a successful fashion store and I was interested, just like my audience, to hear the story of a lady many have come to respect as a fashion-forward influencer.
I asked Ishola how she was able to juggle school work with starting a business.
According to her, it was not easy, but she had always loved business, growing from a business background, and was certain she wanted to sell clothes.
So, she thought to herself that the best way was to start while in school, going from hostel to hostel, hawking fairly used clothes.
“Sometimes, it could get so frustrating, you go to a hostel trying to sell wears and ladies would give you attitude and some will even snub you and all,” she revealed. But she was determined nonetheless to make it big.
Reminiscing on the good old days while in school, she stated: “Sometimes I will walk from Mozambique hall to Moremi and then to sports hostel, which was really far. At that time, I didn’t have money and my intention for walking instead of taking a bus or a bike was that I might see a potential client who might be willing to buy from me on my way to the next hostel.
“In fact, most times when my parents would want to give me foodstuff to school, I would ask for the cash instead so I could add it to my business money and make money, I wasn’t from a poor home, we were okay but I just really wanted to do something for myself. I continued till I saved enough to travel to Dubai, buy some wears and open my first shop while in school, I was beyond happy.”
The after-school phase can be quite tough on most people. I asked the fashion queen how she felt and what she wanted to do with her business after school.
“I knew I wanted to expand but wasn’t sure where. I did a few researches and I knew I wanted to start small and eventually grow. I decided to expand to Ibadan, the funny thing is, I had only been to Ibadan at most thrice and didn’t know my way around. So, I called a friend of mine to ask for his advice on the best location close to students where I could open my shop and that was how I got the necessary guidance to expand to Ibadan.”
There is no doubt that life is not a bed of roses, nor is business for the faint-hearted. So, I inquired of the Indulgence Fashion CEO what her biggest business challenge has been thus far.
According to her, it would be her shop in Ibadan. She had always wanted a big space, little did she know that it would come with its own hurdles.
She had to clear out her account to pay for the rent of the place. Five months later she was yet to open the shop, as the space required so much money to set up. She had to use money from her shop in Ife to set up the shop in Ibadan, and even at that, it was not easy.
She finally took a leap of faith to open up the shop after six months so she could sell her clothes. She learnt a fundamental lesson, which has since helped her to grow gradually, after the shop in Ibadan stressed her physically, emotionally and even spiritually.
Ishola has since expanded to Lagos but is yet to launch the store. I asked her why it took her so long to finally come to Lagos, the commercial hub of Nigeria and the very city she grew up in.
In response, she stated that Lagos is like a big sea and “If you are not careful, it could swallow you up. I wanted to be ready before coming to Lagos and also because I am ready to settle down and my fiancé is based in Lagos.”
The fashion entrepreneur hopes to launch her Lagos store as soon as the lockdown in Lagos is over. The goal is to shuttle between her different stores in Osun, Oyo and Lagos States.