Achenyo Helen Asimegbe is a Nigerian mother of two with a passion for entrepreneurship and development. A serial entrepreneur, she runs a high-end quality children’s clothing and accessories retail shop, Stylemark Mall and Stylemark Pro Enterprise a capacity development center. She serves as a business mentor at the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Foundation, and Cherie Blaire Foundation for Women in Business. We caught up with her to find out about her entrepreneurial journey.
What gave you the idea to start your business, how did the idea come about?
I had to identify that one thing, that I could really do, and derive joy from. My first business is Stylemark Mall, which was I started in April 2015. I love children and my children are my joy and I wanted my business to be a reflection of that and hence a business that would serve children was the natural go-to avenue and the children’s clothing retail shop was born.
What industry were you working in when you started your first business and was it an easy transition?
I was working in banking so transitioning from Banking to the retail and fashion business wasn’t the easiest thing for me, it was really tough in the beginning because both professions are different somewhat. I now had to be hands-on with marketing and sales which were unfamiliar territory for me.
What are some of the key life experiences do you feel helped you directly or indirectly to build your business?
Being an employee. During my time working in the banking sector, I was saddled with a lot of responsibilities and tasks that had deadlines I had to meet. So in the course of working for someone for years, I learned a substantial amount of skills and knowledge that I wouldn’t have known had I started off as an entrepreneur and it has helped me be disciplined in building my business. I have no regrets on time spent as an employee because of the knowledge I acquired during that time.
Since venturing into entrepreneurship, what have you discovered about yourself as a woman?
In the course of running my business, I began to discover how really creative I am. I wake up having so many ideas/inspirations on what exactly I can add or do to make my business stand out. I have also realised I have a passion for mentoring and helping them turn their ideas into profitable ventures. Which is really the reason why I set up my second business, Stylemark ProEnterprise, where we offer training and platforms designed to assist small to medium enterprise owners realise their growth potential, have access to market their products, access finance, and capacity building.
What are some of the essential skills you think African female entrepreneurs should get to succeed?
I would say Goal Setting, Time Management, Negotiation, Networking and Communication skills have served me well. Owning a business comes with a lot of responsibilities, and it’s important for every business owner to try and be as professional as possible in operating that venture.
What is your vision for the next 5 years going forward?
My vision is to locally manufacture an authentic Nigerian clothing line that can compete with the world’s best children’s clothing brand and ultimately export the brand.
What advice would you give a sister who is contemplating going into entrepreneurship or is at the start of her entrepreneurial journey?
Always have the big picture in your mind, and pursue excellence.