How Juliet Udejinta turned creativity and passion into N10m venture
Juliet Udejinta is a student of chemistry at the Federal College of Education, Oyo. But being a student does not stop her from making a foray into business, as she is the chief executive of Jonvic Ventures, which focuses on capacity building through training as well as sales of materials for bead-making, wire works, customised bags, footwear and makeup.
Juliet went into this business because of the passion she had for fashion and creativity as well as an urge to have a dignified source of income.
She developed interest in bead-making while in secondary school and acquired the skills needed to make it a business.
Today, Juliet has grown from N5,000 to N10 million.
“I started bead-making five years ago and, to God be the glory, I have achieved a modest success, because my business- including all my equipment- is valued at N10 million. My journey into the world of beads was an accident of association and inquisitiveness,” she told Start-Up Digest in an interview.
“Another inherent factor that contributed to my fraying into bead-making is the talent of art. In secondary school, fine art was one of my favourite subjects and I had always aspired to make a living out of it. From lending a help to my friend and mentor to making and selling of beads, I developed a burning interest in the business. My elder brother Charles gave me N3, 000 to buy a fairly used handset and I bought one for N1, 500 and used the remaining N1, 500 to invest in bead business. My friend Chinyere gave me my first loan of N3, 500 without interest. I will confidently say that the initial seed money for my bead business investment was provided by Charles my brother and bolstered by Chinyere. From then I made my beads and wore it wherever I went to. And if anyone showed interest, I would sell it and make a new one from the proceeds. Gradually, people started ordering for beads from me in our church and some friends and well-wishers ordered to encourage me. However, when I finished secondary school, I enrolled into a formal training in bead-making and when wire works became trendy, I keyed into it,” Juliet explained.
Juliet imparts bead-making skills to young people in her environment. Her Jonvic Ventures trains young people, especially young women, in the art of beautification and beauty accessory making. The company is also a registered facilitator of NYSC Skills Acquisition Entrepreneurs Development (SAED) with Oyo State directorate, Oyo Zone. Through the SAED scheme, Jonvic Ventures has trained and mentored over 20 corps members in that line of business.
“I get contracts from corporate customers such as private secondary schools that have engaged me as consultant skills facilitator for their students as part of the schools’ curriculum,” she stated, adding that poor public power supply has remained a challenge for her business.
“It is an old story that every business in Nigeria must be able to generate its own power to remain afloat. We rely on generators to power some of our equipment,” she complained.
“People venture into bead and bag businesses because they are integral part of the female fashion world, and fashion is one of the booming businesses. However, the business is really challenging and it is worth all the bills customers usually have to pay. I also work extra-hours, and all through the night, as the particular occasion demands,” she explained.
She stated that success was not just estimated in terms of naira and kobo but in terms of how one achieved set targets in the short and long runs.
Juliet did not succeed in her first year as the volume of her business was not enough to pay for the rent the following year. She closed the shop and went to acquire another skill the following year.
One of the things that helped her was an addition of other aspects of fashion such as make-up and ‘Gele styling’.
“This business also pays a lot and it is a business for people that have creativity and wish to express it,” she disclosed.
Juliet described her career as a very challenging and highly demanding one as nothing good came easy in business. “It has been very challenging remaining in business at this lower level. One of the greatest challenges is non-accessibility to credit from big commercial banks. These banks don’t have room for start-ups,” she said.
She said interest rate of micro finance banks (MFBs) was as high as 30-40 percent and for a short period, adding poor finance was responsible for high mortality rate of small businesses in Nigeria.
“It has not been easy for me growing the enterprise, combining family, school, and career. I work very hard to make ends meet and I advise ladies to be independent and work hard. Despite my challenges, God has been faithful. I have also progressed this far due to the support of my husband,” she said.
Juliet’s long-term plan is to expand to other areas of business and in some other cities.
Juliet advised aspiring entrepreneurs to be focused, consistent, courageous, patient, and eager to take up challenges.
“I plan to grow these businesses to make Jonvic a popular brand in the fashion market in Oyo town and beyond. I intend to go into importation of the raw materials and in the nearest future expand to manufacturing of the raw materials,” she explained.
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