Women-owned businesses are incredibly diverse in the problems they take on and the methods they use. A lot of these businesses are small-scale, mainly for the goal of keeping families afloat and relieving financial burdens. A lot of these businesses are also dreams and passions that have turned into huge ventures that impact people all over the world. Regardless of the type of business and its scale, starting and maintaining a business is a huge feat for anyone and is always worthy of recognition! These five women-owned businesses are being highlighted for their approach to their respective industries and the ways they are pushing the envelope.
Is the ‘Gaia’ print familiar to you? It is the signature fabric of Kai Collective, a brand of attainable and sustainable clothing with luxury aesthetics made to help women feel their most confident selves.
Fisayo Longe is a Nigerian fashion designer and entrepreneur who lives in the U.K. Starting off with a blog about fashion and travel while she worked at KPMG, she decided to follow her passion and seek out opportunities to gain experience in the industry. Soon, Kai Collective was born!
It took a few years for things to really take off, however, and 2019 was its first good year after various products and marketing styles. This was when Kai Collective started to receive buzz on social media with influencers wearing the items, and it’s been up ever since.
The story behind the Kai brand, specifically Fisayo’s story, is one of perseverance and determination. She’s very open about her path of finding herself and following her dreams instead of going the traditional route. Recently, she graduated university ten years after starting and wouldn’t trade the life she’s lived this past decade for anything!
“I want women to never accept limitations or stereotypes from anybody, to realize how powerful they are.” – Fisayo Longe
FORVR Mood is changing the dominant narrative about Black women with its affordable yet luxurious self-care brand of fragrance and other products.
Jackie Aina, the founder, is a Nigerian-born American who has been creating beauty content on YouTube for a long time now. Known for her taste and unique style, this fragrance business is a one-of-a-kind offering that fits her brand well.
FORVR Mood is a popular favorite because it is known for its consistent quality and refreshing creativity. Jackie’s entrepreneurial spirit and courage to branch out into a different field is definitely inspiring!
“Black women don’t always have to be strong. Black women deserve self-care. Black women deserve luxury. Black women deserve to be spoiled. Black women deserve.” – FORVR Mood
After graduating from Loyola Marymount University, Salma Okonkwo became the first woman CEO of Sahara Energy in Ghana. In 2008, she started UBI Group, her first company and the first indigenous company to support the oil industry’s sector. She made the shift towards more renewable energy solutions and is now the founder and CEO of Blue Power Energy, which is building Ghana’s biggest solar farm!
Salma is known for her work ethic and tenacity, which is inspiring to all business owners, especially those venturing onto the road less traveled.
“I believe that the mentality of a team is set from the top, from the leader of the company, and therefore it is imperative that the leader is steadfast in their vision.” – Salma Okonkwo
Known for her colorful and creative Ankara pieces, the self-titled Lisa Folawiyo brand is a classic in modern Nigerian fashion. After studying Law and working for a while, she decided it wasn’t for her and thought back to her natural interests in fashion and style.
Starting a business was difficult, especially in Nigeria’s fashion industry, but she started anyways with about N20,000. Receiving a positive response on her early work pushed her to keep working and she hasn’t stopped since starting as Jewel by Lisa in 2005.
Lisa Folawiyo elevates African fashion with pieces that stand out on the global stage. The brand has shown collections on platforms in Lagos, Johannesburg, London, Paris, Milan, and New York. It has also been featured in publications like Vogue, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle.
Q: Words for young, burgeoning female fashion entrepreneurs? A: Have your vision, know your truth, stick to it and run with it. – Lisa Folawiyo
2021 Milan Fashion Week was kicked off by Italy-based Nigerian fashion designer Joy Meribe. Her debut runway collection consisted of extravagant prints, layers, and colors, which Meribe said was meant to celebrate a return to normalcy.
The brand was founded in 2017 by Joy who was born in Nigeria but lives in Italy. She has vast experience in the fashion industry and the style of her brand is playful and lively. Joy Meribe features unique garments inspired by Western designs with references to Afro culture through amazing patterns.
We love this business because it promotes diversity in the fashion world by including the African perspective and opening it up to the world!
“I tried so hard to keep it simple and tone down my Nigerian side given that I am working in a country like Italy but the more I come out of my creative shell, the more I set myself apart from mainstream western fashion and this sets me apart from what people are used to.” – Joy Meribe
These are just a handful of the many great businesses that serve as inspiration to the entrepreneurs and dreamers out there thinking of following their passion. Why don’t you take steps towards that leap today? That was how Naija Nation became a reality!