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Zuvaa: How One 26-Year-Old Turned $500 Into $2 Mil­lion Online

Zuvaa african fashion dresses

What start­ed with a com­pli­ment turned one young wom­an’s idea into a mil­lion dol­lar business.When Kelechi Anyadieg­wu start­ed her online African cloth­ing store Zuvaa with $500 two years ago, her idea was to share African-inspired designs with con­sumers around the world. Zuvaa is esti­mat­ed to make $2 mil­lion in sales in 2016.

After receiv­ing a com­pli­ment on her out­fit, the tech savvy 24-year-old bought a domain name and start­ed social media accounts.

I did­n’t real­ly know what I was get­ting into, I just had a vision and I was excit­ed about where that would take me,” New York-based Anyadieg­wu told CNN in an inter­view.

As a women of Niger­ian descent, I grew up with African prints and fab­rics. I loved wear­ing African inspired designs, and when­ev­er I did wear these pieces, peo­ple want­ed to know how they could also shop African inspired prints.”

Instead of just refer­ring these curi­ous cus­tomers on to the design­ers she knew, Anyadieg­wu saw a busi­ness oppor­tu­ni­ty.

I decid­ed to use my skills in social media mar­ket­ing and online com­mu­ni­ty build­ing, to cre­ate a plat­form that would pro­vide more expo­sure for the tal­ent­ed African-inspired fash­ion design­ers I knew exist­ed around the world,” she said.

Her suc­cess has already land­ed her on theForbes 30 under 30 list.

Pas­sion x exper­tise = a win­ning for­mu­la

While the path of a tech entre­pre­neur is not an easy one, Anyadieg­wu’s edu­ca­tion set her up for success.After study­ing User Expe­ri­ence Design in the U.S., she com­bined her pas­sion for rep­re­sent­ing Africa on the world stage, her keen eye for design and tech exper­tise.

I’ve always been a techie. I’m very inter­est­ed in how tech­nol­o­gy and design could be used to change lives.

Zuvaa brought togeth­er every­thing I was ever inter­est­ed in. My love for Africa, my inter­est in fash­ion and my skills in tech­nol­o­gy.”

The life of a young entre­pre­neur

Anyadieg­wu has been very vocal about the fact that she did not want a tra­di­tion­al 9 to 5 job.

And she’s not alone, accord­ing to research by Bent­ley Uni­ver­si­ty, 77% of mil­len­ni­als say flex­i­ble work hours make them more pro­duc­tive.

My days are a lot longer than 9–5!” says Anyadieg­wu. “From when I wake up to when I go to sleep, I’m work­ing on Zuvaa. If I’m not direct­ly work­ing on Zuvaa, I’m def­i­nite­ly think­ing about it.”

Anyadieg­wu pre­dicts Zuvaa is on track to make $2 mil­lion in gross sales this year, she said hav­ing a clear vision is key.

My biggest piece of advice is to trust your vision. Your vision for your life and com­pa­ny are real­ly going to be what makes you stand out.

No one is going to be able to see this vision, that’s what makes it so spe­cial, that what will set you apart from oth­ers, that’s what will make get every morn­ing excit­ing to work and build your com­pa­ny.”

The name ‘Zuvaa’ comes from ‘Zuva’ which means sun or sun­shine in the lan­guage of the Shona peo­ple from Zim­bab­we. Anyadieg­wu’s vision for the com­pa­ny is clear;

We are build­ing a move­ment of arti­sans, con­sumers and peo­ple around the world who want to know the sto­ries behind their gar­ments. Where they come from and who made them.”

Peo­ple are excit­ed that their tra­di­tion­al prints are going glob­al and it’s dri­ven by peo­ple from their com­mu­ni­ties. Many are fas­ci­nat­ed with the mar­ket that exists out­side of Africa and how the glob­al inter­est is trick­ling down to their local com­mu­ni­ties,” added the young entre­pre­neur.

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