I got into entrepreneurship solely to pay rent after I had quit my job but along the way it became my passion and the best decision I ever made. - Leila Akinyi
Stage Name: Leila Akinyi
Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya
Enterprise: Sensible Fashions Dresses
This week we are covering another exciting interview from Nairobi, Kenya. Among the list of 100 Self Made Entrepreneur from around the global we have with us the 26 years old Leila Akinyi, who is a CEO & a Founder of Sensible Fashions Dresses based in Nairobi,
This project would not be possible without these amazing entrepreneurs who allowed us to share their stories and business plaforms. It's our mission to inspire our global readers by delivering quality stories. Plus, sharing with the world how these incredible young talented individuals are impacting their communities.
Today' topic is ALL ABOUT THE FASHION, since is one of our personal favourite topic. We are exploring the hype of the fashion industry business in east Africa. Since 1990s, the fashion industry in Kenya has taken an upward trend. It is evident that African fashion trends have been evolving very fast if not daily hitting mainstream media. As a result, we now have a countless social media influencers, bloggers writing on the latest fashion trends from AFRICA. Plus, the recent shift on Afrobeat industry endorsing the African Fashion in music videos.
Early last month, I had the chance to cover an exclusive with Kenyan based Boutique owner Leila Akinyi. The 26 years old, Leila Akinyi journey begun in summer 2014 with effort to pay rent after leaving her day Job. Following her passion for Fashion allowed her to dive into entrepreneurship journey without looking back.
Leila Akinyi took leap of Fatih in creating her fashion business, NEECEE LEXY blog is ready to learn how did she do it. Plus, we hope our reader are inspired by her bravery action to follow their dreams. No matter where you are reading this article in the world. You might be walking away with something incredible and sense of motivation to manifest pathway that will help secure or create your dream job.
Please Miss Leila, tell us about yourself?
I'm Leila Akinyi, 26 years old from Kenya, Africa. I enjoy dancing, swimming, travelling, adventure, hiking and doing things that give me an adrenaline rush like sky diving. I love spending time with nature. The serenity and tranquility of it just gives me peace of mind and keeps my heart calm. I've actually made my major life decisions while on nature-time!
How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
My journey begun on 29th June 2014. I got into entrepreneurship solely to pay rent after I had quit my job but along the way it became my passion and the best decision I ever made.
I started selling scarfs and warm socks since it was the winter season in Kenya. After the season was over, they were no longer in demand. So I had to study the changing trends by carrying out a customer survey to find out what they need and how I can fill that gap.
It took a year to finally understand my customers' needs. They wanted affordable, fashionable and unique dresses. That's how I discovered my niche. Since then I've been selling dresses and it's been an amazing journey! I've learnt a lot but most important lesson being: A dress speaks of one's personality. When you understand a customer's personality, it's easy to get her a dress that not only fits her body but also boosts her self-confidence.
Take us through a day in your life as a fashion entrepreneur.
My day as a fashion entrepreneur: I go through my orders which are sent via text or Whatsapp from customers. After further communication to understand the necessity of the order like:
Any distinct features (length of sleeves, length of dress, type of material and neckline)
I go to my suppliers and get stock then start making deliveries. My ultimate satisfaction is seeing a ccustomer comfortable and content in the dress she has bought. I always ask during fitting,"Do you feel comfortable? Is your heart 100% about it?" These questions help me understand a customer better and I encourage complete honesty. Customer satisfaction is always my Number 1 priority.
At the end of the day I get a sense of fulfillment like I've achieved my purpose on earth.
In a nutshell..Selling dresses gets me high!
You are based in Kenya, do you offer your service products internationally.
Yes. I have a Facebook and Instagram handle where customers from all over the world can view my products and place an order.
I've made deliveries to Malawi, China, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania.
What are some of the fashion trends you’ve taken note of in your city that influence the selection of your store items ?
My target is women aged between 18-40 and this means there's a variety of items for everyone.
Let me break it down:
18-30: Like fancy, modern, trending outfits. Mostly fitting and body hugging dresses. This demographic is dynamic so their fashion trend is unpredictable because they go with what's hot in the market. They're influenced by social media and celebrities.
31-40: Are conscious with their dress-code since most are career women, mothers and wives. Current trends are not their major concern as much as comfortability.
What is the inspiration behind your latest design collection for the Fall/Winter season?
We're getting to the Fall season so everyone is looking forward to get out of their closets and rock fitting, fancy, short, sexy, body hugging dresses. It's like letting go during the weekend after a long week of working. Most are looking forward to revamp their closets by getting the new and hot stock in town.
What is your go to fashion tips?
I use Google to research a lot on fashion tips for women of all sizes and age groups.
I have this segment called #StyleUpSaturday on my Facebook and Instagram business pages where I post tips on how to adorn several dresses including the material and design.
All sizes are covered from petite to plus size.
It's amazing to know that every size has it's own style and type of material!
Learning new tips is exciting!
Are there certain pieces and accessories are always in demand?
Yes! The most common being Spandex, Stretcher or Sweater material dresses which accentuate the curves. The modern woman is a go-getter, independent, confident and sophisticated and she wants her outfit to speak of that.
What is your favourite (s) experience(s) and why?
My favourite was my first experience with a full , XXL size Lady. It was a challenge since most if my ccustomers range from Small to Large sizes only. I asked her what she liked and we tried a lot of types from body hugging to skater, shiffon which didn't blend well with her body type.
I did my research on the internet and finally discovered that free-shirt dresses work well with her. So I got her 2 free-shirt dresses to try out and wow!! She loved them! She looked more confident and comfortable. Since then she refers to me as her stylist. That was a major breakthrough for me. I slept well that night knowing that I've made an impact. I learnt how to dress different types of plus size women.
What advice you give to young entrepreneurs who are contemplating following in your footsteps?
Start where you are with what you have. You'll be amazed at how far you'll go.
Be patient. Keep learning. Keep moving. Keep growing. Pursue your passion; it will take you places you've never been.
What can we expect from you in the next 2 years or so?
A bigger online store with many more different products and also be a household name.
Of course!! Great things ahead! I already have a 5 year plan and strategy. I plan to franchise and be the best in East Africa and beyond. Look out world! I'm coming!
Who are other talented designers or stylist you would hope to collaborate with?
Vivo by Wandia Gichuru from Kenya. She has incredible taste just what I like and my customers love.
Than you so much Miss Leila for being our wonderful guest feature on NEECEE LEXY today. We were beyond grateful to have you here plus being among our Top 100 Selected Self Made Entrepreneur from our the global program. Your story is the reason why we do this weekly feature in effort to help inspired our generations to start creating amazing things within their communities. We wish you all the best in your business ventures. Feel free to reach us anytime and we look forward to re-interviewing you in near future.
FOLLOW LEILA'S FASHION ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook: Sensible Fashions Dresses