Personal struggles and experiences can often be a great basis to set up a business as one has an understanding of the pain points in the market. This is how Nicola K Magera started out her business.
It’s only a handful of fashion designers who choose to invest in children’s wear, however, Magera took a leap of faith and chose to explore the opportunities and perils of running a children’s clothing line.
Having children of her own and understanding her personal struggles led her to realise that there was a gap in the market, and speaking to other mothers she confirmed the existence of challenges and turned it into an opportunity.
So, Yambee Baby, her product line, was born out of that necessity which has now turned into passion.
Yambee baby was established out of need by parents to have access to locally-made appealing products for babies and toddlers.
Starting off two years ago, Magera was mainly producing baby dolls but has since grown her scope of products to include shirts, lounge or sleep wear, sleep sacks among other items.
These are mostly made with simple but vibrant and playful patterns and designs. They are also made of 100 per cent cotton, comfort comes first for her.
“We would like babies and toddlers to feel comfortable when they wear our clothing and so we focus on that, for example, how we can make it easier for mothers to get a shirt over a baby’s head – all our shirts come with shoulder snaps. If toddlers are going to be spending all day or all night in our loungewear, let’s make sure it is as soft as it can be and is breathable and so we use 100 per cent cotton,” she said of her designs.
Her work, she said, reflects a labour of love and collaboration for it involves partnering with local artisans to create a variety of baby friendly products for Rwandans.
Her items cater for babies in the age range of 0 months to 3 years although she said she is planning on including 5 year olds starting this year.
While her business has been in existence for two years, she said with this new product line, it feels like they are just getting started.
One of the biggest challenges for her has been trying to get the right price point.
She explained that while she wants her products to be affordable, she also struggles with the fact that, because she is still doing this at a small scale, the cost of production is high.
And also, her desire to use quality fabrics which come with their own high price point, is a constraint on the other hand.
“Every day comes with a new challenge but we have a clear vision and are working towards that, to quote William A Foster; Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skilful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives,” she noted.
In order to deal with some of these challenges, she is trying to make good use of the government’s incentives offered for Made in Rwanda for example applying for VAT exemptions on importation of raw materials in an effort to reduce cost of production.
Promoting made in Rwanda
Her target market is parents with children aged 0 – 3 years old who are looking for quality Made in Rwanda clothing for their little ones.
This has been her mission since starting out as she wanted to provide more options for quality Made in Rwanda products for children.
For the time she’s worked in this field, Magera said she has discovered the existence of talented tailors and artisans in Rwanda.
“From creating patterns to getting our final products in the shops, I rely on collaboration with the tailors and I have been very impressed by the attention to detail and timely delivery during production,” she said.
The entrepreneur also noted that she has nonetheless not yet met her expectations noting that since she is still in the start-up stage.
“Our ultimate goal is quality excellence – for Yambee baby to be a go- to-brand for high quality baby and toddler wear that is Made in Rwanda. We want the quality of our product to be able to speak for itself and so that is where we focus all our efforts, ensuring we use premium and extra soft cotton that will be perfect for delicate baby skin and comfortable for toddlers,” the entrepreneur said.
Going forward, Magera said that she is a big believer in collaboration and so she has partnered with Haute Baso- an established Made in Rwanda brand in order to expand her reach.
“All our products can be found in store at Haute Baso in Gacuriro. Our focus this year is going to be more than just growing the brand / business. We hope to grow into a mother + baby community and have a few new exciting products that we think will be great for both mama and baby. For anyone interested in our new product launch this year, we can also be found on Instagram & Facebook @yambeebaby.”
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