Beating the crisis through online trade as a slow-fashion entrepreneur

Wacu Kihara is the founder of the sustainable and contemporary fashion label Khangadelic in Kenya. Her business was born from her passion for fashion and love for the environment. All her designs symbolize the colour and vibrancy of the Kenyan coastal culture and lifestyle, using reusable Khanga cloth bags from fabric offcuts.

Her online journey kicked-off in 2018 when she opened an eBay store, through a SheTrades project, and started collaborating with DHL to ship worldwide. However, her business only really took off with the the start of the pandemic in 2020. The key to Wacu’s increase in sales was adapting to the global demand and sharing good quality photos of her products in her online channels.

She shifted her production to masks and started selling them on eBay to customers all over the world, from the US to Japan, Ireland and Norway.

Apart from eBay, her other sales channel is social media. Many of her customers contact Wacu directly through Facebook and Instagram. She is now exploring how to use the “Shop” functionality.

Wacu participated in the International Trade Centre’s Facebook Live series “E-commerce Tips from Peers”, organized by the ecomConnect team – the e-commerce initiative at ITC – where she provided a series of tips. Among them, she encouraged entrepreneurs to:

  • Know their market to reduce costs. Knowing the market, customers and their preferences can help invest in what is more fruitful for entrepreneurs.
  • Research competitors, their prices and the keywords they are using to attract new customers.
  • Customize products and communications to your customers. For example, entrepreneurs can send customized emails to let clients know the status of their orders.
  • Gather positive reviews. Customers’ feedback is everything: in online platforms, positive feedback is key to appear first in the search results. When Wacu’s business failed to deliver on time, she always refunded the customer to avoid negative feedback.
  • Be up to date with legal documents to save time when working with payment solutions and logistic providers. This will help entrepreneurs save time.

Wacu also suggested that entrepreneurs build a quality network of businesses and associations operating in their respective sector. “By joining various WhatsApp groups of business associations, one is able to gain access to business opportunities and training. This is a great help for your business, especially in the first stages”, she adds.

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