Diana Igandu Ogendi, 34, is the co-founder of LadyLuck Shapewear, a business she started with her husband that is all about making women look and feel good with body shaping undergarments. She talks about starting a niche business and how she has grown it.
I am married to my life and business partner Eddie Ogendi, and we are blessed with a lovely son named Heri Ogendi. I was born and raised in a wonderful family and we grew up in Embu and Nairobi. I am the second born of four siblings.
My dad, Dr Peter Njagi is one of the leading psychiatrists in Kenya with his own practice while my mum Ann Njagi is a trained nurse and a businesswoman. All my siblings are also into business hence we are a family of entrepreneurs. I went to Sacred Heart Primary School in Kieni and thereafter joined Loreto Girls High School.
After high school, I joined Daystar University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations. I believe that my parents have played a big role in the person I have become.
At some point, when I was still in high school, I ran away from school and went home because I was homesick. I was so scared that my parents, especially my dad, would be so angry and punish me severely. To my surprise, he thanked me for coming home. He also told me to come home, whenever I had a problem. That was an affirmation that I had backup, and I could follow my dreams.
I have always been passionate about good quality undergarments. While at Daystar, I sold undergarments and swimwear to my friends. After campus, I did other businesses, not knowing I would come back to undergarments.
In June 2013, after I gave birth to my son, my body really changed. As you can imagine, the pregnancy and birth take toll on a woman’s body so everything was out of place. I didn’t look the same in my outfits and this really bothered me.
I had a pair of shaping bikers from the US that my mum had given me and I wore it over and over again. With that challenge at hand, I knew it was time to get more of the shaping bikers because whenever I put it on, I looked better and felt more confident.
I remember telling my husband, “I need more of these” and he asked me a question that changed everything: “Do you think other women need it?” I said yes! And that began my research on good quality specialty undergarments.
What happened next
We imported a few samples of different kinds of body shapewear. For example, shapers for women to use after child birth to support their backs and help shrink their tummy, others to enhance their figures, to reduce cellulite and bulges etc.
From that point, we were now ready to test the market. This was the best moment for me because I realised I was not alone, and we had brought a solution for many women.
The ladies were happy. They felt beautiful. I could see confidence ooze out of them when they tried on our shapewear, and that’s when the name “LadyLuck” was born.
I was selling to friends and family, and a lot of clients came through referrals. I heard about Facebook marketing and I got curious. I knew who to talk to; Eddie my husband. He has always been good with technology and numbers so he put us online. I would say we are the perfect combination in business. I am in charge of the brand and product lines, and he runs the back end.
Running a start-up
We started LadyLuck at home, in 2013, converting one of the bedrooms into an office.
I was handling customer care, sourcing and creatives while still attending to a new born child. I always picked up the phone with a lovely greeting, trying to sound like the customer care agents of big corporates while at the same time crossing my fingers that the baby doesn’t cry otherwise we would be discovered.
The journey has been fun and unpredictable. I have learnt that nothing is permanent, whether in the good times or the bad times. I have enjoyed interacting and working with other people. And I have realised people are everything in business. We have a great team at LadyLuck and we are like a family.
Our speciality undergarments are for every woman who wants to enhance their figure and feel confident in their outfits. Lady Luck Shapewear is a brand that has curved a niche as the specialist and expert in superior body shapewear in Kenya. This is the outcome of years of custom designs, market tests and obsessive attention to detail. We do this because we are all about making women look good and feel great every day, in their outfits.
Shapewear is actually not for weight. It’s for giving that smooth finish, hence making women look good. And they do come in different sizes, from petite to plus size. We have something for every woman.
Where I am now
We thank God for the progress. We deliver to clients throughout Kenya and have over 100,000 fans on Facebook. We recently opened our first retail outlet at 680 Hotel in Nairobi CBD. But I must say that like every business, we face challenges daily.
One memorable challenge is when we ordered a product sample and it was perfect, but the bulk goods received were horrible and we had to throw them away. We lost a lot of money at a young stage of our business. Despite that, the good outweighs the bad.
One memorable moment was Valentine’s Day of 2014. We anticipated high demand and urgency in delivery. However, our home was distant and it would have been a challenge to get the shapers to our clients fast enough on that special day and we did not want to disappoint them. So we packed a huge bag of shapewear and a laptop and went to a restaurant in town to work from there.
Orders were coming in so fast all day long with everyone saying they needed the shapewear. We were so exhausted and happy at the end of the day. I rewarded myself with a glass of wine and Eddie ordered a full chicken for himself! It’s been one memorable experience, and the journey still continues.
However small you start, see the bigger picture. Give good customer service, be reliable, focus on good quality, and build a brand. Treat everyone fairly including those who work for you. Realise early that you need good people around you. All these virtues will be easy if you love God.