Second-hand clothes famous as Mitumba clothes have currently sold five times more in the first half of the year than any other time immemorial, hitting a high of 7.8 Billion shillings.
At the Imenti house, along Moi Avenue, Pop In Basement mall’s stall number J3, we meet a charming, vibrant young entrepreneur, Sophy Osano who is reaping big in the second-hand industry. Popularly known as Sophy wa Mtumba, Sophy is the sweat and brains behind Sophy wa Mtumba Collections and I seek to understand her entrepreneurial journey.
The stall is busy as it had been when I first visited as a customer and felt inspired to write about her story. We had agreed to have a sit down today for our interview but seeing there are a number of customers, we agree to have the interview as she attends to her clients.
So who is Sophy wa Mtumba?
Sophy wa Mitumba is a 27-year-old CPA graduate who has overcome the odds of unemployment to build her own business. She comes from a humble background of six children and is the second last amongst her siblings.
Sophy is a business lady who opens second-hand cloth bales on weekly basis and has grown her client base largely within the last one year. She is energetic and clearly understands her craft as she can easily get you your size of cloth by simply looking at you despite having been in the business for one year only.
How has Sophy’s Entrepreneurial Journey Been?
“I was once employed, it was not fulfilling for me, the money was not enough and I yearned to be self-employed. I insisted to my family that I would excel in business because I knew I had what it took but people will never know you the way you know yourself,” Sophy divulges adding that getting the capital was not easy.
“I chose to start the business as a side hustle with 3,000 shillings and would buy the stock, a few handbags, on weekends as that is when my bosses would pay us,” says Sophy who adds that the business slowly picked which required her to rent some space. “Stalls in the CBD are expensive, in most cases, you are required to part with a hefty goodwill so I started with selling my products to friends and being very talkative ensures I have many friends. I was then expectant and knowing the bills were likely to bloat on me once my baby arrived, I chose to quit my job which was paying me around 25,000 shillings,” reveals Sophy who is a single mother of a one-year-old boy.
Sophy wa Mtumba’s Products
Sophy wa Mtumba specializes in the sale of second-hand; ladies clothes such as jeans trousers, denim and chiffon tops, rompers and jumpsuits and dresses, handbags, laptop bags, school backpacks, and casual bags.
Who are Sophy wa Mtumba Collections’ targeted clients?
My Customers are mostly online. I take clear pictures of my products and post them on a number of social media pages especially on Facebook and Instagram. Sophy runs a number of social media pages namely Sophy wa Mtumba Collections and LeCamera bag zone on Facebook which helps sell most of the products. On Instagram, Sophy runs as Sophy wa Mtumba Collection where she displays her products.
Walk-in clients also boost the business for Sophy and referrals from happy customers grow her client base every day.
What are Sophy’s Daily Challenges and where does she draw her Motivation?
Every business has its share of challenges just like employment and Sophy‘s Mtumba business is not a smooth sail either.
“Getting online people to trust the quality of your products from the photos is not easy so whenever you get customers coming to the shop, you have to work hard and ensure repeat business,” says Sophy adding that some of the online people call to reserve products but never show up to actually buy them.
Sophy’s son is one year old and as a single mother, she sometimes wishes to spend more time with him necessitating the need for a sales girl at the stall. She says it has been difficult to get somebody who is trustworthy, focused and welcoming to the customers.
Sophy also brings to my attention most Kenyan’s negative attitude towards second-hand clothes adding that the ‘new clothes’ are currently flooding the market but are a cheap poor quality that becomes uniform-like amongst Kenyans.
How much Does the Sophy wa Mtumba Business Bring Back?
“I pay 22,000 shillings for the stalls rent, 16,000 shillings for my house rent, feed well and care for my son and his nanny. I also get enough to save, send my mother and pay my tithes. Don’t forget the city council’s yearly license fees,” says Sophy shyly.
The stall assures Sophy of security from regular harassment from the City County officers.
What is Sophy’s Advise to Kenyans Struggling with unemployment?
“Trust you and go for your dreams, only you know them the World does not when people see what you have to offer, they might come through for you,” says Sophy adding that the customer is very crucial. “You have to be good at creating rapport, listening to your customer’s needs and learn to take initiative,” added Sophy.