Clothing accessories: you can make cool profits with all kinds of small stuff.
If you think the clothing industry is huge, think again. The accessories we often wear with our clothing make up a much larger market that is worth billions of dollars every year. Clothing accessories include a wide range of items; some of the most popular are jewelry, handbags, hats, belts, scarves, watches, sunglasses, stockings, ties, leggings, suspenders and tights. Depending on trends, tastes and preferences, you can build a sizeable business out of clothing accessories in Africa.
One of the biggest categories in clothing accessories is jewelry. Janet is a young Zambian entrepreneur who abandoned medical school to pursue her creative passion in this field. She now owns Janet Fredman Designs, a jewelry retailer who specializes in contemporary African-inspired accessories. Although you might have thought that jewelry could only be made with gold, silver and gemstones, Janet‘s pieces are made from natural resources such as seeds, wood and leather. Her unique jewelry encapsulates raw beauty and is earning her a lot of attention, both locally and globally.
Watch Haven is another interesting business that has targeted a niche in the clothing accessories business. This Nigerian startup focuses only on watches – men‘s, women‘s, kids‘ and luxury watches. The business uses its impressive website to reach a wider target market and offers free shipping, fast order processing and the option to pay on delivery.
There seems to be an interesting trend of African startups focusing on just one or two clothing accessories and establishing themselves within a niche: jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, watches, etc. Are there any accessories you have noticed that could sell well around you?
Success Story: Kunmi Otitoju – Hermès (Nigeria)
Kunmi Otitoju, a 30-year-old Nigerian fashion designer and entrepreneur, holds two Computer Science degrees – a Bachelor of Science degree with first-class honors from Howard University and a Master of Science degree from Virginia Tech. But her first love was Fine Art. As a high school student in Lagos, she won the Fine Arts prize at school every year for three years. Having moved to the US when she was 17, and then to Europe at the age of 25, Otitoju found herself deeply enmeshed in western culture.
Keen on preserving her Nigerian identity and eager to propagate facets of Nigerian culture, she conceived the idea of lining high-quality leather bags with Aso-oke fabric, a hand-loomed cloth woven by Nigeria‟s Yoruba people. In 2011, after stints at Goldman Sachs and a few other international corporations, Otitoju established Minku, a fast-growing high-end Afro-centric brand that produces luxury bags, wallets and other fashion accessories for men and women by subtly blending Aso-oke into contemporary Spanish leathers to present a transcontinental finish.
All Minku‟s products are hand-made at a workshop in Barcelona, Spain, but they are sold at high-end stores in Nigeria and on the company‟s website. Extract: Forbes Magazine