Story By Nurudeen Salako
“I don’t think I have gotten to the peak; I want more growth. I see my business growing to an extent that I can export to other African countries. Although the sky is wide enough for everybody I want to be one servicing everybody in the market”
One, the Holy Bible says in Deuteronomy 32:30 will chase one thousand, and two, it says again will chase ten thousand. By human reasoning, this is beyond the power of exponential equations. It left one to start wondering the gimmick behind the possibilities of using just two digits or people achieve quantum results at what one does.
A typical analogy that confirms and further describes this position of the Holy Bible is Chinedu and Onyeka Azih’s story of having noting to achieving greatness, becoming a point of positive reference building business and family.
Chinedu and Onyeka met at Sheriff Deputies Limited Lagos, – a private security company where they both worked.
What brought them together has not only made them husband and wife with children but has also driven them to build an ever thriving security wear production company with scores of staff working for them.
Speaking on what prompted the security wears production company, Chinedu explained how she was made to love seeing well-dressed soldiers in her high school days, and working at Sheriff Deputies as a staff made her developed a passion to venture into the business with her husband support.
According to Chinedu, her husband’s persuasion and creativity for security guards uniforms made her start the business because while she was working with a security company, her husband happened to play a consultancy role for security guard agencies on how best security guards are to be dressed in styles and uniform colours conformity.
She recalled how people came to her to see the reason, why she should start a security outfit uniform business since both she and her husband have passion for the work and that, was how they began the journey six years ago.
When asked what she envisaged at the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey, she maintained that she wasn’t expecting the huge success she has recorded so far because it was something she started as a joke.
In her words, “In all honesty, I didn’t think it was going to take us to this level as it was something that we started as a joke. When we started, we wanted to get people to do it, ours was to just supply and still maintain our jobs, like a part-time hustle.
We realized that people we gave the uniforms to sew were cutting corners, using substandard products. We decided to change that unreliable perception about fashion designers by ensuring we produce quality guard kits and deliver on time. We started producing boots, and after that people started coming to us for uniform sewing when they are disappointed by people.
On the aspect of funding the business, Chinedu explained that it was a tough challenge when they started as banks couldn’t give them loans as startups until they start seeing inflow which was from their personal savings to finance their startup.
Commenting on how Covid-19 affected her business, she said, “During the pandemic period, a lot of clients had to downsize the number of guards they had and could not place uniform orders which affected the business. It was a tough period but we thank God that normalcy has been restored and businesses are back.
Among Kazih Kits’ clients are Ondo and Ekiti state governments as they delivered the southwest regional security outfit (Amotekun) for the states; Spyglass for Accessories and Oakland in Akure, Dynamic Cheerish Security, Warri amongst others.
With no prior fashion education or background, she ensured that she acquired the required skills on fashion capacity building in the space by registering for fashion seminars and workshops. She was among the 40 women sponsored by Union bank to China-Europe international business school, Lekki on entrepreneurship and leadership.
“The thing about business is that you learn in business. For capacity, we learned on it. It is different when you have a mentor to process things about business is that you learn from it and we have been able to build our capacity and improve in the business.
On her appointment as an ambassador for the International Summit of Leadership, Chinedu was nominated for the award and won the award that made her become an ambassador. she also won the woman capital award for woman capital development in 2018.
Running a business in Nigeria is not a walk in the park especially for startups. The cost of fuel, logistics, and getting raw materials to rise and this element brings frustration when doing the business but when you understand why you started the business, you won’t let that get to you.
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She however implores government to implement good business policies, making grants accessible to business owners, and also encourages banks to give SME loans at a low rate to improve business operations for a better economy. She also emphasized Infrastructure and regular electricity.
If she has ever thought of quitting at a point, she affirmed that she was at the point but when it happens she always remembers why she started the business and what will she start from especially for her workers after losing their jobs.
“When money is not forthcoming and government policies are getting you frustrated with staff issues, you get discouraged but I always tell myself that this is what you want to do, go for it and here I am today”
Partnering with her husband for the business, she revealed how her husband dragged her into the business with his encouragement and well-structured plans for easy execution.
“At the beginning, I asked him a lot of questions on how we are going to run the business because business to the customer is easier than business to business particularly when sourcing for clients and entering into the market. He also said I shouldn’t bother but accept it as he puts me through”, she said.
“I could remember at a point when I told my husband that have resigned and it is now his business but what keeps the business going is the communication and understanding of each other and having a business with your partner is fun.
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Regarding client relationships, she noted that there are no difficult bosses or clients as it depends on how someone handles them She gave an instance when she posted something on her Linkedin page where two of her clients were impressed and made valuable comments about her business.
“When our clients commend and refer us to people, it gives us joy and at the same time we give room for constructive criticism and this has really helped us to grow and moving in the right direction”
Asked if she’s satisfied with the current state of the business, Chinedu noted that human beings are insatiable and the vision she set for her brand is far from reality.
“I don’t think I have gotten to the peak; I want more growth. I see my business growing to an extent that I can export to other African countries. Although the sky is wide enough for everybody I want to be one servicing everybody in the market”.
Advising young entrepreneurs, she charged them to invest in what they truly have passion for and go for it. “the sky is wide enough for all to fly, just make sure you have the passion, consistency, and determination with prayer and you will definitely flourish, she urged.
On his part, Onyeka described his unflinching support for his wife’s business as utilizing the advantage of what the century gives and exploring it as he stays in the background and lets things flow.
“21st-century we live in is women’s world considering how government and institutions creating awareness and promoting women empowerment. We need to take advantage of the century; it is for women”
On his view about feminism ideology, he called for a balanced equation saying a modern woman has stipulated rights and they should not exceed some certain level. He further gave instances on other women who are bosses in their career but when they get home they differentiate workplace duties from the home tasks and that makes them balanced women.
Commenting on the boots produce by Kazih Kits, he said the boots contain some high-quality components and are part of the production.
“We use premium quality material because we always want to give our clients value for their money by producing standard boots and it has been given us niche above our competitors”, he explained.
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