Damaris Njeri Mbugua, 23, is the founder of Pillow Glam by Dee, an online store that retails throw pillows. She quit employment to immerse herself into business and despite the challenges she has faced while running a business at a young age, Damaris says she has no regrets and looks forward to expanding her business. She shares her story
I am the first born in a family of five girls. I was born and partly raised in Kakamega County. My father is a health worker while my mum works as a teacher. We relocated to Nyahururu where I schooled up to class eight at Nyahururu Elite Junior School. While I was in class eight, we moved to Nakuru where we settled. I then got admitted at Mary Leakey Girls High School. While growing up, I had initially wanted to be a pilot, and realised I had a passion for mathematics. I scored very well in Mathematics, an A. I was therefore excited to further study it in the university. I joined Kibabii University in Bungoma County to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, Statistics option, which is my passion. I graduated in December 2017 and secured a job the following month at Bahati Dairies in Nakuru. During the eight months I was employed, I realised I really wanted to be self-employed. I needed to start something of my own and watch it grow.
I had a passion for home décor and I thought why not go for this idea. I would spend hours on my phone going through home décor photos, especially those of throw pillows. I was fascinated by how good they looked while properly arranged and how they bring life and transform a living room, a bed, a car, of course after using the right combination of throw pillows. Plus whenever I went through my news feeds, I noticed a huge demand for throw pillows, especially the fruit shaped ones. I quit employment eight months later after making the decision to venture into business.
What happened next?
I talked to my parents about my decision to venture into business. This was after I had done my research. Luckily, they were very supportive of my decision and agreed to fund my business then I kicked off. My sisters and close friends also gave me a lot of support and encouraged me. I thank God for strong support system which has seen me through till now. For one month, I took time to carry extensive research on throw pillows and the market available. Thereafter, I launched my brand. Quitting employment was not easy. I quit to venture into something new and was not sure how it would turn out. Home decor and Mathematics are very different. I would say my love for Mathematics came first then home décor followed. If I am not solving problems, I am following up on throw pillows. However, Mathematics will come in handy when my business grows because I'll require it to analyse the business trends and predict the business growth.
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Running a startup
It has not been easy. Financial constraints are a constant struggle, especially for me because I am constantly improving my products, creating new designs and growing my business and that requires money. Despite that, one and a half months later, my business has peaked, though not as fast as I thought it would. The challenge so far is finding a good marketing strategy that will enable me to reach out to as many people as I can. My joy is when I get new clients and they get impressed with my throw pillow designs. It gives me the zeal to carry on. I don’t have a specific target clientele. I get both male and female clients. I mostly use Facebook and Instagram to market my pillows.
Where I am now
Pillow Glam by Dee is growing steadily. I would want to reach out to as many people as I can. I plan to incorporate more varieties of pillows to my brand and include travel pillows, baby pillows, breastfeeding pillows and decorative pillows. I would also want to open stores in different parts of the country as a way of expanding my business.
If you are considering starting a business, it is wise to first carry out research on what you want to focus on, pray and stay positive. Start with what you have and if you are focused, with time, you will definitely grow. When it comes to running a business, there are lots of challenges to face, but those challenges are there to strengthen you. Watching your business grow requires lots of patience.
More about Damaris's business:
LAUNCHED: November 2018
START-UP COSTS: Sh20,000