Career & Money
How to successfully run a fashion retail shop
We talked to Ahumuza Brian, owner and manager of Abryanz collection. This is the most successful men’s fashion store in town. Having started from a humble kiosk, Brian has built that into a chain of boutiques selling high-end brands to the most fashion forward men in the Kampala. He talked to us about the business of selling clothes.
What prompted you to get into this business?
The love; the passion for fashion and the lack of employment. I had always wanted to run my business where I make my own decisions. I love dressing up and dressing other people. All that combined prompted me to do this.
How profitable is it? Considering the high costs you incur. Some people think that you could be feigning some big losses.
It can be profitable if you put your mind to it. Luxury has a huge place in people’s hearts even when they can’t afford it. It’s how you craft your art. Losses remain a huge part of running a business. It’s just how you get yourself out of the financial doldrums and get back on your feet.
How do you deal with losses?
As I’ve shared, they are part of the game. You have to calm down and accept that what has happened should not derail you even one bit. Figure out what you did wrong. Poor marketing strategies, a bad product or even less hard work could be the cause. Use it as a learning process and go back to the drawing board.
There are many boutiques all over town, What has made yours stand out?
Honestly I can’t give you an answer for that. I believe everyone is doing a great job. What happens here is handwork. I work with the most passionate people in the business and we try our level best to stay ahead of what is trending. We also understand the dynamics of what people want to wear.
What logistics does one need to set up a successful boutique?
I have to be honest. All it takes is simply passion and patience. The money comes in later. I started with nothing, started something small that has grown into what you see now. You cannot wake up one day and start something like this on day one. Market research is important. You need to know the kind of people you want to sell to. How they behave and what they prefer. This will give you a clear picture of the kind of boutique you need to have. This will help you know what you need to do to have people walk in to buy as well.
What is the role of social media in building a brand like this one?
Social media plays are huge role. It’s the new way of communication. You will obviously not afford to run mainstream advertising but still the people have to know. Social media is the cheapest and easiest way to fill that gap. You can interact with your clients and they can place orders with ease. We’ve utilised the power of social media so much. We are big on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
You seem to be ahead of things, why haven’t you gotten into e-commerce?
I did. I have an online shop on my website. This is something still new to our customers and so it’s picking up slowly. We are also studying the market more to see how we can penetrate into it fully.
Have you ever sold women’s clothing?
I do. But to a few close friends. I have a good eye for fashion so I can dress anyone if they asked me to. I’m not about to sell women’s clothes though. My niche is men’s fashion.
Women’s clothing and men’s clothing what is easier to sell?
Unfortunately I can’t tell. My niche is men’s fashion, it’s what I know. It doesn’t matter what is easier to sell. If you are passionate about it, just get on board.
Talking about the clothes now. What gives you an edge over your competitors? Quality, price, brands or trends. What makes the stock go out of the shop. Is it even marketing?
It’s all those combined. None of them works on its own. You need to know your market. You need to have a good product. You need to have good prices and a proper marketing strategy.
What advice do you give someone who has the cash to start?
Let them find themselves, what they are good at, the customers they want to sell to and the players already in the market. Make sure you put your money where it’s worth.
Find Abryanz Collection at Garden City basement opposite Elite Computers and at Prime Complex Level 2 shop C21