The Vendor is a PocketApp series that features creators and professionals who sell on PocketApp. They’ll share why they started their business, how they’ve evolved and what they’ve learnt along the way.
Akperi Bemituale Favour founded Draint Urban Clothing in 2012. At the time, he was an undergraduate at Bowen University. Today, he is a full-time business owner, and the brand has grown from a university side hustle into a clothing and lifestyle brand with 11 employees and a production factory. For The Vendor, Bemituale talks to us about starting Draint Urban, his big break during the pandemic, and his first sale on PocketApp.
How did Draint Urban come about?
It started out as Draint Clothing in 2012, while I was studying Business Administration at Bowen University. We used to make custom T-shirt prints for the student community. After school, in 2013, I tried my hands at farming, construction and other things. Then, in 2017, I decided to focus full-time on Draint Urban.
When did it move from just a T-shirt printing side hustle to a company?
In 2017, I read Built to Last by Jim Collins, a book on enduring companies. The book set me on this course because I saw myself as a founder building those kinds of companies that last. It was not just a hobby or a side hustle. It changed my thinking, and I started to see myself as someone who delivers value on a large scale.
What has been your big break moment so far?
Around late 2019, just before the lockdown, Anny Robert ordered some shorts from us, but the measurements and specifications were unique. When Anny Robert posted it, people loved it and called it “ashewo shorts”. We realised that we had a widely loved product and that, if we focus on it, we could capture a new customer base. I think that was when our big break happened.
Are the “ashewo shorts” the most successful product?
Yes. In Q1 of this year, we sold about 960 shorts. In the next quarter, we sold about 1600 pairs. So it’s definitely our highest-selling product.
How does that make you feel?
The business environment in Nigeria is quite a toxic one. Every new day, we’re fighting a new challenge. So the only thing that brings us fulfilment is the reception we gain as a brand. There’s no higher fulfilment as a business owner than seeing people wear a product you created from scratch with a sense of pride. That level of fulfilment is priceless. It shows that what we’re doing matters.
What are some of those challenges?
A typical example is the Twitter ban. We have a very strong Twitter presence, and before the ban, about 60% of our orders came in from there. In the first 2 weeks of the ban, we got zero orders. That means we had goods in stock that we couldn’t sell.
Also, most of our fabrics are imported, so fluctuations or increases in the dollar-naira exchange rates affect our profit margins. But we have to keep pushing and re-strategising because we’re here for the long haul.
Do you remember your first sale on PocketApp?
Oh, yes! It was within 2 days of signing up on the app, and it was hitch-free. A customer ordered 2 pairs of shorts, and we delivered in about 6 hours. Within an hour of the first order, we had another order.
When you started Draint Urban, did you ever imagine it becoming this big?
I’ve always been a big dreamer, so I expected that it would be successful. In fact, I don’t think I’ve gotten anywhere yet. This business is going global — people in China, Europe, India will wear Draint Urban. From the onset, I’ve had the vision to do it big and to do it globally.