Beautiful things can come out of 10% Entrepreneurship. Today, I bring you a prime example of this, with the stunning designs of Enny Ethnic.
Sisters Matipa, Mercy and Maona Nyamangwanda have put in the hours creating Enny Ethnic, a fashion line which uses amazing African prints for their creations. Founded in 2016, their designs honors the sisters’ Zimbabwean heritage, with awesome clothing and accessories which have gained a lot of buzz in the fashion industry.
In a little over a year, the company has received plenty of exposure for a 10% venture. It has even been featured in Forbes, and other websites.
Despite their full-time day jobs, the sisters have (literally) gone the extra mile to get their venture going. They’ve given more than 10% of their time to Enny Ethnic and have traveled to Zimbabwe for more amazing prints, all while keeping up with the growing demand.
I caught up with Mercy and Matipa, on how they got Enny Ethnic started, and what are their plans for the future.
1. Can you tell us about how Enny Ethnic has done so far?
Sure!...We’re glad to say our business has surpassed our 5 year goals in 1. We took part on San Francisco Fashion Week, where we opened the Emerging Designers show with our 2016 “Shona” collection. We have also been featured in Forbes and SheLeadsAfrica.
In early 2017, we secured a place in our first brick and mortar boutique (sole space in Oakland CA) where we are seeing tremendous traffic and selling out of most styles. Also, we just took part on the Select and Emerge trade show in LA where the response from buyers was mind-blowing.
2. What was your inspiration for launching your company?
Truth is, since we live in the US, we wanted to merge our culture with western culture through fashion. We have always loved representing our African roots, but especially enjoy seeing other cultures wearing African prints. Our styles are contemporary chic, and fit every woman from every continent. Having these contemporary pieces in African print was our vision.
Another key inspiration comes from our family. We named the brand after our mother, Enny, who inspired culture, creativity, and confidence in us.
3. So... how did you learn about The 10% Entrepreneur?
We had the opportunity to meet Patrick, at a World Bank event, where he was the speaker. He’s a good friend of our cousin and he put us in touch.
4. What convinced you that you could succeed – why were you the right persons to start and manage this business? What gave you the confidence to actually try and go for it?
It’s mainly passion. We love what we do and believe in each and every print we select and piece that we design. It drove us to start the business and put in the work required to succeed. It shows in our pieces and in the market response to them. It confirms that we are doing what we were meant to do.
5. And how does this particular business idea fit with your life and who you are?
We are creative by nature, so the business is part of our lives. It is not something we have to fit into our lives. We have never known a life without creativity, this business just allows us to share our talent with the world. And, to make it a reality, we have invested our talent, creativity and passion, along with time and money.
Both of us bring elements from our professions: Matipa is an attorney, Mercy is a registered nurse. From our education and professions, we use our abilities to network, negotiate, teamwork, communicate, and multitask. Another important element is our culture, because it is the inspiration behind some of our print selections.
6. What role does each sister play in EnnyEthnic?
Well... Matipa went to business school before law school. Mercy is a nurse who also studied law in Zimbabwe. Knowledge of the law and business are essential to any business.
Maona is also a nurse who owned a consulting company in Zimbabwe, and owns a cleaning business in Dallas, TX. Her entrepreneurship experience guides our business as she can anticipate pitfalls and avoid them.
We all have a wide range of experiences that, together, create a dynamic team. Mercy and Matipa design and create the styles. Mercy has a lot of flexibility which allows her to travel to collect fabric, meet with manufacturers, and visit the stores. Maona also travels to collect manufactured pieces and manages the Popup stores.
7. What has been the biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
Time. We have overcome it by going beyond 10%. We have become 50% entrepreneurs who work 9-5, and work another 8 hours on the business and we love it!
We make the most of any moment. For example, work on the plane and on the train, take conference calls in the Uber/Lyft, etc. We also believe in taking the time to exercise and rest; a refreshed mind is effective and efficient, which saves time.
8. Who have you gone to for advice and what you do when you need help?
Each other and people we have met who have been in the business for a long time. We have mentors in the fashion industry who have been instrumental in guiding us through any situation.
9. What books and blogs have you read and that have been helpful to you (if any)?
10. Last but not least, what do you see happening in Enny Ethnic’s future?
We see growth, beyond the 3 sisters. Our brand is growing exponentially, not only in the US but other parts of the world. In the US, we are looking to increase our presence in more boutiques and larger retailers. With that, comes the need to reevaluate and delegate. As such, we see ourselves having a team that elevates our brand to greater heights.