Chidi, is the CEO of urban clothing line Proud to be African Clothing. Proud to be African features simple designs by African artists and graphic designers that all reinforce the central message Proud to be African. Their core merchandise are T-Shirts, hoodies,sweatshirts, polo shirts, baby grows, children’s T shirts, and children’s hoodies with several distinctive logos and slogans such as Proud to be African, Born in the UK Made in Africa, Proud to be Nigerian, Born in the UK Made in Jamaica etc.
The uniqueness of their brand comes from the fact that they produce good quality, affordable urban wear with a positive African message.Their slogans and logos are very distinctive and seek to simply reinforce African pride in the diaspora
What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical day generally involves checking the email for orders, posting them, updating the website, and blog, checking Facebook and Twitter and updating them as well. And then generally attending events either markets, cultural or music events or networking events in the evenings. All this and a full time job as well
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
As an African, doing something like this to promote Africa is motivation enough, however the universally positive reaction I get at events or from customers is always cheering and keeps you going when you’ve been at it non stop
Who are your role models in the business?
If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
I would stick to my initial budgets and planning cycles!!
What factors do you feel are a threat to your business? and how are you handling them?
The biggest threat ironically are large stores like Primark and TK Maxx who sell items at discounts. This means that in the geographical areas I am targeting, stall holders are forced to compete on those terms i.e. selling 3 T shirts for £5.00 or so, meaning its difficult to get stockists in predominantly African or black areas. To counter this I am aiming for boutiques and fashion houses catering to African customers or African fashion. Although my product is decidedly not high fashion it is of high enough quality to sit comfortably in fashionable establishments as an extra item
What’s the most important business discovery you’ve made in the past year?
It is is very easy to be a creditor and hard to be a debtor!!!
What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?
In terms of the business, ensuring 100% customer satisfaction
How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
By turning my house into a warehouse!!!
How do you unwind after a hectic day?
Watch TV and then sleep
What advice would you give to those who are new to the world of business or who are looking to start a new business?
Write a plan, try as much as possible to test it, subject it to independent scrutiny, rewrite it, test and then start. But be flexible and ready to react to anything
In your opinion what’s the formula for success?
Hard work, a good idea and the means to implement it
What are your future plans for your company?
I hope to expand to the US and EU essentially following the African diaspora in terms of customers and eventually move production back to Nigeria
To view the full Proud to be African Collection visit www.proudtobeafrican.co.uk