Meet Nana Adwoa …the lady redefining online shopping
It is often said that in adversity comes opportunities. Well, Nana Adwoa has strengthened my belief in that saying, as she was able to turn a frustrating event into a business that has grown beyond her expectations. She now owns one of the fastest growing online shops in Ghana. Get to know her.
Born in Accra, Nana Adwoa Kusi-Appiah is the only girl among three boys in the family. She is currently the CEO of Boundaries Couture, an online ladies’ shop. She started her primary education at the Jack and Jill School and completed her Junior High School at Morning Star School, all in Accra.
She continued at St. Roses Secondary School at Akwatia in the Eastern Region and completed in 2006. She then proceeded to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) where she graduated with Geomatic Engineering in 2011. After her first degree, she did her masters in the same programme at the same university. She is now a professional member of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors.
Nana Adwoa had the dream of becoming a lecturer. So even for her national service, she worked as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Ghana. Now, how did a potential lecturer end up as a business woman?
How the online shop started
Nana Adwoa’s entrepreneurial journey is quite an interesting one. As indicated earlier, a rather frustrating event made her think outside the box. At the time, she struggled to find a suitable dress for an upcoming wedding she could not miss.
“During the time I was doing my masters, there was this wedding I had to attend. I roamed around all the boutiques I knew and those I didn’t even know to find a suitable dress for the event, but I didn’t get it. Then, I saw an online boutique, but it took me two weeks before they got what I wanted. On the day of delivery, they disappointed me. They told me they realised the dress was out of stock. The wedding was on the coming Saturday and so I had to immediately go and sew something to wear.”
After that unforgettable experience, another wedding popped up in her family. This time, it was her brother’s wedding in the UK and she was among the bride’s team. She and the other members of the team went online, selected the dresses, ordered them and they were delivered the next day.
She was so amazed that a system that had frustrated her back home worked so perfectly in another country. So from that day, she began dreaming about how to get such a convenient and effective system operating in Ghana.
“I was wowed about how easily we got the type of dresses we wanted for the wedding. So, I thought about bringing such a system to Ghana to help people, especially women, so they could have easy access to clothes and other accessories.”
After studying how the whole online business works, it was now time for her to translate her dreams into reality. But how would she start? As a student, she didn’t have much money.
Nana Adwoa’s aunt wanted a bank account opened for her with GH?2,000. What did she do with the money?
“I told myself my aunt doesn’t need the money now so let me use it for the business and pay later when I make money.”
So with the money, she was able to buy 30 dresses from the UK and showed them to her friends on campus. Her business became an immediate hit as her friends rushed to purchase the products even before she could advertise them on social media.
Satisfied with the interest shown by her friends, she registered the business under the name: “Boundaries Couture,” and created Facebook and Instagram accounts, telling friends to follow, like and share.
How the business picked up
Just a few days after posting her first set of dresses on the social media accounts, she was contacted by a medical doctor in Korle-Bu who placed an order for some of the dresses. Then it was followed by another important personality whose identity she would like to keep anonymous.
The business gained a lot of traction online, and now has more than 17,000 followers on social media.
Currently, she has in her stock ladies’ shoes, dresses, bags, necklaces, make-up products, hats, swimsuits, sunglasses, and other dressing accessories for women.
How to buy items from Boundaries Couture
Products at Boundaries Couture can be accessed simply by visiting the social media page of the company. All that a buyer must do is to send the product code, which is always attached to the product, to a number provided.
Alternatively, the potential buyer can send a screen shot of the product to the number through WhatsApp. The product can be delivered to the client within three days, depending on the distance and time of request.
One of the biggest challenges Nana Adwoa faced and still faces is the low level of acceptance of the online business among Ghanaians.
“It is relatively new here and people have lots of reservations about doing business online. They fear the final products delivered to them will not be exactly as they saw online.”
Another challenge she has to contend with is timing of request and delivery. Sometimes, people call her at odd times and they want the goods delivered late at night because they have to attend a function the next day.
“I remember delivering goods at 1am to someone at an all-night event. She told me she had a wedding in the morning and wanted to wear a dress she saw in my online shop, and I had to take it to her.”
Another challenge she encountered, which has served as an eye-opener to her, is when she tried extending her reach beyond the shores of Ghana, to Nigeria, Mali and other places. As it turned out, the Nigerian agent she was working with squandered her money and vanished into thin air.
How education has helped her business
Even though Nana Adwoa never studied business and did nothing in relation to accounting or economics in school, she has been able to run the business successfully. She attributes this success to some basic skills she learned in ICT that helped her develop a structure to organise her business and take stock of all the items in her shop.
Nana Adwoa has the vision of making Boundaries Couture the number one one-stop online shop for ladies in Ghana and Africa.
How government can help start-ups
“For me, I think there is too much bureaucracy in registering your business in this country. I went through a lot of stress to register mine. You have to do this here, and do that there and the like. It makes the process frustrating. So, if government can do something to make registration stress-free, that will be good.”
Advice to the youth
“I will encourage the youth to follow their passion and take opportunities that will come along with the passion. There may be pressure and discouragement from others, that you cannot make it. But don’t listen to them, go ahead and do it; you will be successful.”