MEET THE BOLD QUEEN OF MEN’S WEAR

Nainante Lerionka in her men’s wear shop.
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Young graduate ventures into entrepreneurship instead of being employed formally

By Zeiytun Sharamo

Entrepreneurship is not for the fainthearted. Granted, savvy entrepreneurs are able to spot business opportunities, making a fortune in the process. Nevertheless, this is a journey thatis prone with pitfalls. Only those who are resilient and patient are able to sail through. As Marc Benioff once said: “In order to remain relevant, you must establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.” Nainante Lerionka is a young entrepreneur who has made use of these wise words. There are a lot of inspiring lessons that young entrepreneurs can learn from her remarkable journey. Lerionka studied international business at Brunel University in West London, graduating with a bachelor’s degree. In 2015, she came back to Kenya and started a family business in Kamukunji market, Nairobi City. The business specialized in importing fast moving merchandise from China which was sold to small scale traders on wholesale.

Passion

In 2020, she closed the Kamukunji business and ventured into a field she was more passionate about -selling clothes. Consequently, she opened a men’s wear shop at Madonna House in Westlands, Nairobi. It is known as ‘House of Bold Kings.’ When asked why she chose this particular business she said : “I had heard so many men complain that it is hard to find high quality clothes in the market and the few that are available cost an arm and a leg.” Her goal was to bridge that gap.

Lerionka imports these clothes online from Turkey, India and Italy. “I specialize in casual shirts, khakis, T-shirts, polo shirts, jeans and blazers among other items,” she says. Her business targets men working in offices and businesses. According to her, nowadays, many men in formal organizations and businesses have embraced casual outfits instead of suits.

Import business

Before investing in a business, it is crucial to evaluate its opportunities and threats. “When I decided to venture into this business, I sought advice from a friend who is highly experienced in it,” she says. “She gave me the contacts of her suppliers abroad and I have been able to cultivate a cordial business relationship with them,” she adds. These suppliers share with her the clothes in fashion via WhatsApp and after placing her orders and making payments, they are shipped to her. She does not have to travel abroad in order to get her merchandise, hence saving on travel and accommodation expenses.

Mentor

Lerionka says that her mother, a successful entrepreneur in her own right, inspired her to venture into business. “In my view, my mum has a Midas touch – everything that she touches turns to gold,” she says. “ She has been in business for as long as I can remember and I have seen her grow into a wonderful, brilliant and a successful entrepreneur,” she affirms.

Hurdles

Starting a business in the middle of a pandemic was not been a walk in the park for Lerionka. “During this period my husband supported me a lot to sustain the business,” she says adding that they had to dig a little bit deeper into their pockets so that the business would stay afloat.

She further says that this line of business is very competitive because fashion keeps on changing. Therefore, to stay on top of her game, she has to look for customers aggressively in order to sell her stock fast and profitably.

Lessons

The young entrepreneur says that there are a lot of invaluable lessons that she has learnt in her journey. To start with, she has learnt the importance of being resilient, having started a business during a global pandemic and guiding it to success. “I would say that this is the most patient I have been considering the period that I started this business because I had so many expectations, so I have learnt that things don’t always happen the way that you want them to and you have to be patient,” she says.

She also states that when she started the business , she invested a lot of money in buying the most exclusive and expensive clothes thinking that they would be in high demand considering the location of her shop, only to find out that most her customers want fairly priced items. “I wish I had understood my target market better, all the same, Ihave moved on,” she quips.

The other side of Lerionka

Typical day: Wakes up at 6:00 am, prepares her kids for school, goes to the gym before reporting to work. She leaves work between 5:45 and 6:00pm.

Hobbies: Spending time with her kids, going to the gym, swimming, spending time with her family and friends.

Favourite cuisine: Beef

Best moment as an entrepreneur: Traveling to different countries

Strength: She has excellent communication skills.

Marital status: Married with two kids.

Favourite book: Every day is a Friday by Joel Austin

Dream car:Mercedes G63 AMG

Parting shot: Don’t do things just because other people are doing them, find something that you are passionate about.

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