You already know how excited I get whenever it’s time for another interview in the youngpreneur series. Today’s youngpreneur makes me even more excited because she’s someone I’ve observed over time, and I’ve seen how she’s always ready to push her unique brand forward. She’s someone who values community and collaboration over competition- something very rare in the creative industry these days.
Not only is she always looking for how to improve her unique brand, she’s always ready to share information that would be helpful. From pushing and promoting a not-so-popular business venture to become a highly sought after brand, here’s Nigeria’s crochet queen.
A: Hi! Can you please introduce yourself?
K: “I’m KAOTHAR Abiola YUSUF, 23, the first of four children, a graduate of unilorin and the owner of the one woman brand, Hooked on Kaothar.
A: Ayy! Fellow unilorite! Please tell us a bit about your brand/business
K: My brand focuses on creating unique pieces for individuals who love to always be different from everyone. Since the technique used is crochet, the uniqueness of each piece cannot be overemphasized because crochet cannot be replicated with any machine and of course there is a limit to the number of pieces one’s hands can make so you’re sure your piece can never be mass produced.
A: Okayyyy! You have our attention now. Your line of business is quite a unique one, why did you decide to go into it?
K: Well, I’ve known how to crochet since my junior secondary school days. After I left my first job post nysc in Abuja, I was ready to start my own clothing line seeing how I already learnt how to sew after my university days. I did a cost analysis of all I’ll need to start my clothing line and I realised that I didn’t have that money. Because I had seen first hand how dangerous debts can be, I decided to look into another venture that will bring me capital and doesn’t require much money to start and that was how I remembered the scrunchie I made while in Abuja. I took a picture of me wearing the scrunchie, showed a couple of my friends, they liked it and that’s how the business started. Took it from there and I’ve been growing it.
A: Maximizing your gifts and skills, and making money from it, I love it! On a scale of 1-10, how prepared were you to go into business?
K: I’d say 5 because I was tired of looking for a job because “I don apply taya.” Pardon my language, so I knew I had to do this cause lack of nothing to do was slowly pushing me into depression.
A: I can so relate. I’m sure that you had some fears and reservations no matter how little before going into business, what were they?
K: My major fear was wondering if people would buy but I was willing to go for it and find out myself whether people would buy or not.
A: How has it been since then?
K: It has been really educative, I’ve learnt a whole lot and I’d say it’s an interesting rides. Even though there were days in the past when there won’t be any orders and I’ll just take my cv and start going to look for a job again.
A: We’re glad you didn’t give up! What would you consider as the challenges you had since you started? How have you been able to overcome them?
K: My biggest challenge is finance management, I’ve not overcome it yet sadly, but I’m constantly reading and seeking knowledge on how to do it better, constantly changing techniques till I find one that works.
A: That’s the way forward, not just waiting idly. Has social media helped your business so far? What would you say is the best way to maximise your online presence as a business owner?
K: Yes, social media has helped my business. In fact social media is where my business is based for now and I think all business owners should take advantage of social media cause it requires no rent or maintenance fee asides money for data which you will buy whether you have business or not and real time consistency.
A: I couldn’t agree more, social media is a great asset for business. What has been the highlight of this journey for you?
K: The highlight for me is having people I don’t know shout my name at events where I rock my pieces too because they see a unique crochet piece and they say “ when I saw this piece, I just knew it was you”
A: Aww, that’s so nice. If you could have one thing that would help your business now, what would it be?
K: Time, say I should have 48hrs a day instead of 24
A: Please when you get it, tell us! We wouldn’t mind too! What steps have you taken, or do you plan to take to build and project your brand?
K: I am now looking at attending more fairs, exhibitions and fashion shows just to get this brand out there, the major challenge is time because for this business, 90% of the capital you need to invest is labour.
A: You go girl, never stop learning! We’re rooting for you. What are these pieces you currently make?
K: Although I take bespoke orders, I have some ready pieces like scrunchies, bralette, jackets, ponchos, shawls, skirt and even shorts.
A: Nice! Are there people you look up to in your line of business? What are their names?
K: I look up to 2 major people, both not in Nigeria though. The first is Noor and the second is “Smyna Orgu”, I’m not sure that’s her name cause she doesn’t speak English, just found that handle on Instagram.
A: Great, so what would you say is the secret to staying in business?
K: Persistence, fighting spirit, not giving up even when everything is on the low.
A: Truer words have not been said, I personally love your spirit. What is your number one rule when dealing with customers?
K: Try to give them what they want, and let them know what to expect.
A: I mean, integrity really matters and the customer is king right? Do you work alone or do you have people who work with you?
K: Right now, I work alone.
A: Who/What inspires you?
K: People around me inspire me.
A: That’s great. Apart from being Nigeria’s crochet queen, what else do you do?
K: I’m into insurance sales with Custodian.
A: Ohhhh Boss Lady! Wellstone! A word of wisdom to everyone reading this?
K: Never settle! If you feel you deserve more, go out there and get more cause you will have what you ask and fight for.
A: Well said! Thank you for your time, stay creative!
K: I’m really glad to have shared this with you, Thank you for deeming me worthy Mide, you’ve been one of the earliest supporters of this brand and I pray that you never run out of your creative juice.
Amen and Amen to that! Thank you for sharing your journey with us Kaothar.
Each day, I look at the work this amazing lady is doing, I’m inspired. Extremely creative, and always ready to carry everyone else along.
From all of us at TPH, we wish you all the best and we wish you a happy birthday!
Over to You…
What are your thoughts on our youngpreneur? What do you think is the secret to staying in business?