Alberta Dosu …how a young lady turned a failing family business around

It is said that adversity is a gift. Well, it depends on what you make out of the situation you are confronted with. Alberta is a typical example of a young lady who made the best out of a troubled situation. Just as would be expected of every young graduate, Alberta spent months searching for a job, but to no avail. Frustrated with the situation, she joined her mother in her fashion designing business that was failing. Find how she turned things around as she talks to the B&FT’s Inspiring Start-ups.

Background

Alberta Enyonam Dosu is the first of eight children. She is an old girl of Wesley Grammar Senior High school, after which she proceeded to the Ghana Institute of Journalism where she graduated with a degree in journalism. She then did her national service with the Royal Bank in Accra.

After national service, Alberta spent time roaming from company to company dropping her CV and application for employment, but nothing happened, except failed promises.

Disillusioned and desperate, she decided to act on a piece of advice a former colleague at the bank gave her. What was the advice?

Alberta’s mother, Ms. Rebecca Korley, was a fantastic fashion designer. But she had been out of business for some time due to ill-health. While Alberta was working at the bank, she once wore a nice dress designed by her mother and it caught the eyes of all her colleagues. One of them advised her to take the business up after she was done with national service, as she had learned the skill from her mother but had not decided on pursuing a career out of it.

But young Alberta, at the time, didn’t really buy into that idea because she fancied working in a rather different corporate environment. So, when the jobs were not coming, she decided to go back to her root — sewing.

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The dawn of a new era

When she finally made up her mind to revive her mother’s business, she started thinking about branding. She renamed the business Mzbeckyz Fashion. Her former colleague at the bank, Hannah Ayata, was generous to her and loaned her Gh₵1,500 to start up.

The name Mzbeckyz was in honour of her mother Rebecca. Under her mother’s coaching, she started the business at their home in one room.

The first order they worked on was from a friend who placed an order for two dresses. Incidentally, that friend had a huge following on social media and so she posted the dresses on her accounts. As soon as the friend did that, Mzbeckyz’ designs went viral. Orders started flowing in from all angles and have since never stopped. Currently, on average, Mzbeckyz Fashion now produces not less than 100 clothes a month.

Beside the dresses, she has also moved into other pieces of fashion like purses, phone cases, curtains, throw pillows, laptop bags, and comforters, all made with African prints. She is also working on adding dinner wear to her collections.

Alberta’s nice works have earned her a national reputation like no other. She was a participant in a fashion show held in October 2017.

She has also been nominated for the Young Entrepreneurs Award initiated by the Ministry of Youth and Employment, which comes off November 30th, 2017.

Currently, she has employed two other people and is seeking to train more in January.

How she markets her products

As usual, social media cannot be overlooked by businesses, even larger ones, let alone those operating on a small scale. Mzbeckyz Fashion has accounts on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook stuffed with pictures of her beautiful collections. Through these media, she has been contacted by a lot of customers both far and near.

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Again, as the famous designer Ralph Lauren once said: “fashion is not necessarily about the labels, it’s not about the brands, it’s about something else that comes from within you”. Alberta has applied this to herself. She does self-marketing by adorning herself with her brand and this has also attracted new clients to her.

Challenges

As usual, lack of access to finance tops her challenges. With the country’s interest rates hovering around 30 percent, small businesses like hers find it very impossible to use the financial system to expand and grow. So, she relies solely on proceeds from sales to recapitalise.

How education has helped

Remember, the business was first owned by her mother but never reached this height. Alberta attributes the success of the business now partly to education.

“Education has really helped me because during my days in GIJ, I learnt marketing, principles of advertising and entrepreneurship. These courses have really helped me to tailor my business to meet growing trends in the fashion industry. It has also helped me manage my accounts and plan for the future.”

Vision

Alberta has a bigger vison for Mzbeckyz Fashion. She wants to expand beyond Ghana and have physical presence in Europe, America, and other African countries.

How government can help

Albert says government can help by supporting budding businesses with easy access to finance, and providing them a platform, like expos and shows that can expose them to other markets and enhance publicity.

Advice to the youth

Alberta is urging the youth, especially those who have completed school and are job searching, to learn and develop skills that can create employment for them and others.

Beyond the skills, she wants the youth to have a vision for their businesses and work towards that vision with determination and hard work.

Contact Alberta on 0209400005

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