When he started wearing prescription glasses at the age of eight, Ali Hussein wished to become an optician. He researched and read widely on the science behind the field. On completing high school studies, he got an opportunity to study in the United Kingdom where he pursued a six year course in optical science. After completing this course, he got an opportunity to work with renowned brands in the UK for over a decade.
Having gained as much experience as he could, he decided that it was time to come back to Kenya. To make use of the experience he had gained and also having identified a gap in the market, he set up Mahdi Optical a year ago. Kenya being a completely different market from the United Kingdom, his entry to market was not easy as he sought a niche in original designer frames and a better customer experience.
I linked Ali to MarkAlex Kuria, the cofounder of Married to Unique that has been in the optical business for close to half a decade to share his experiences. Here are some of the insights he shared with Ali on the Optical business
Identify and seize opportunities
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Kuria started his business trading in sunglasses and jewellery, amongst many other products. Earlier on in his business he realised that he could market his business on social media and he jumped onto the opportunity.
In comparison to the many products he marketed on social media, he realised that eyewear was moving faster and, therefore, changed his business model to fit around the eyewear business.
Identify customer preferences
When Kuria realised that his customers were interested in eyewear, he started selling different kinds of frames; from sunglasses to optical glasses.
At the time he did not have an optician, so clients just bought frames and went to have their prescription fitted elsewhere.
They constantly inquired on the services. Realising the demand for value addition, he brought in an optician to ensure that his clients experienced an all-round service.
Source with quality and price in mind
Kuria sources his frames from various countries like Dubai, China, and Singapore.
Having noticed that the market is price sensitive, he ensures that he sources for frames that are not only unique but also affordable.
Leverage on social media
Married to Unique has been a business that has experienced the full benefits of social media.
Over 90 per cent of its clients have come through social media where they post the different campaigns and promotions they are running.
Kuria advices that for a business to thrive, social media has to be at the centre of their strategy.