Winnie Odande needed to break out of the corporate world but wasn’t sure how until her colleagues pointed out her fashion sense and she realized that that was her talent she could monetize! Fashion was so much a part of her daily routine that she didn’t even think it was a talent because it was so natural for her. Read our interview with the lovely Winnie below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
After having worked in the corporate field for 6 years, I needed a change. Work became a drab affair and I felt I needed something more challenging, something different. I started working early in life and therefore it was a process of slowly finding myself, knowing where my strengths lay, and what my interests were among other things. Luckily, over time, my colleagues spotted a talent in me, something I never really thought much of because to me it just came naturally. They would always ask me to get them similar stuff to what I’m wearing and slowly I realized I loved putting outfits together and could actually do it as a business. My work background has really helped me in my business seeing that I was mostly getting administrative roles, I use the skills acquired to run my business.
Tell us about your business.
I’m a fashion stylist, blogger and personal shopper. My brand name is Dande Styles, which is basically a play on my name. Through it I strive to show people how ‘Style Meets Function’ which is my tagline. As I grow older, I have realized it’s not about having many clothes but having pieces that work for you, your body shape, various occasions, pieces you can actually wear on the regular, thus the functionality part of it. I provide styling services in the areas of personal styling, wardrobe management, production styling, creative direction on look-books, editorial features, catalogue and merchandise styling. As a blogger I also work with brands to create product awareness through product reviews, event launches and reviews, advertising platform etc.
Where is your business based?
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Soon as I identified what it is I wanted to do, I immediately set up a Facebook page to advertise my work and thereafter started a blog. All these after the necessary market research had been done.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
I cannot over emphasize the benefits I have accrued through social media. It’s the main engine on which my business runs. Word of mouth and connecting/networking with the right people has also helped me a lot.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Fashion styling is still a foreign concept in my country although it is slowly gaining ground. Getting people to see why they need my services, especially when I started was quite a challenge. The other struggle has and is for people to understand why you package your rates as such. Seeing that it is an art in itself and the costs are not tangible as other professions might be, it can get a bit challenging when it comes to costs, though I have come to learn how to go about it. Plus, how you show people that what you offer is value for their money is by doing a good job and becoming credible enough.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Consistency. I kept at it. I believed in myself and what I was offering. With time, people started paying attention. I learnt and still learn from each mistake I make and strive not to repeat it next time. This has helped me grow to where I am. I focused on building my brand to become a trusted and reliable brand, and that has helped me a lot.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I remind myself why I started this. I bring to mind the high times, the good times because these good times act as a reservoir for when I’m running low. Sometimes, I take a breather, pause, sit back and think of a different way of doing it because at times that is all you need, find another way to kill the cat. I cannot forget my fans/followers, these are people God use daily to keep me going because they cheer me on the side-lines and sometimes one cheerleader is all you need to get that boost to restart. Last but not least at all, God. I go back to Him during such times. He sees me through a lot and gives me the strength to dust off the pieces and get back on the game.
How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
The only way to distinguish yourself from your competitors is to always give your best. I am always on learning mode. I will learn from people younger than me, older than me, people who have been there for awhile and those who have just started. I am all about perfecting my craft because while we are doing the same thing, we all bring different aspects to the table. A touch of Dande makes all the difference.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Learn to rest. Not quit.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
The same learn to rest, not quit. Mainly because as someone who is there, I know how many times you are faced with thoughts of giving up. How that deal you’ve been chasing can slip out of your hands just like that and your strength is drained, how you can reach a creative block and don’t have content to give out, how quitting sounds attractive in the midst of all these odds against you. So take a break, recoup, then get back on the game.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
It has to be Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Behance and Linkedin. WordPress, when I had a WordPress hosted site. Now I’m on Joomla.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
While I love to read, I’ve not been able to read much as of late, but I read a lot of articles. What I’m currently reading is the autobiography of Mary Kay.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
One of my main goals is to make sure that by the end of the year Dande Styles becomes a go-to fashion brand. I have just rebranded and I am working to make sure that it becomes a household name by the end of the year. How I aim to achieve this is by selling an experience to my clientele through my service delivery and also through aggressive marketing.