Bamboo Business of the Week – sharing the financial culture and business of the average Bamboo user.
What’s your name? Tell us about yourself
My name is Phoebe Toluwani. I’m the creative designer at Esteni Signature, we create minimalist and timeless pieces for modern women. I’ve been sewing since I was a child. I’ve always loved it. My mum was a fashion designer, so I played with her machine, sewing pieces and all that. I ended up going to a proper fashion school and after I lost my mom I decided to start my own business. That’s how Esteni Signature started.
Wow! So sorry about your mom.
Are you done with school now?
Phoebe: I’m not in university yet. I’m still processing my admission at the moment.
Wow! I think you’re the youngest person I’ve interviewed for the Business of the Week. So big ups to that! You’re 20 years old, already investing in stocks, and owning your business. Like girl, you are actually on the right path and that’s really good.
Phoebe: I also train people too, teach people fashion designing too.
Okayy! That’s nice! Go girl!
What has been your financial culture like?
Phoebe: My siblings and I weren’t given much money growing up, we were just given what we needed especially since there’s always food at home. Sometimes we save the money and other times spend the money on the things we need. So we didn’t have that background of lavish spending and all that. I think that has really helped me because when I started my business I wasn’t big on spending, which helped me save more. Later on, I realized that it’s not only about saving, you also have to invest. I started reading about investments and how to go about it here in Nigeria, I discovered Bamboo. I haven’t invested in a lot of stocks yet, because I’m still learning, but Bamboo has helped protect my money from inflation.
How and when did you start your business?
Phoebe: When I was sixteen after graduating from secondary school, I took a teaching job. Because I love to sew, I was taking fabrics from people and sewing along the way. People loved the outfits I made for them and encouraged me to focus on it, because to be honest, the teaching job wasn’t paying me enough. After a year, I left the teaching job and decided to focus on sewing. From there, I got referrals from people and my business started. As time went on, I discovered there was more to just sewing, fashion designing, the different stages in design and much more, I went for the classes. Now, for Esteni, I’m focusing on minimalist and timeless outfits for the modern woman.
So how did the name Esteni Signature come about?
Phoebe: In ESTENI, there’s EST and ENI, my mum’s name is ESTher and I’m also ENIola. I joined them to form ESTENI Signature.
Nice! I like it
Phoebe: Thank you.
What’s been one of the hardest times in your business and how did you manage it?
Phoebe: The hardest time in my business was last year when I was restructuring. When I started the Esteni, I was just sewing for people and taking the money without proper bookkeeping. I had no idea if I was making a profit or not. I had no idea how much was going in or coming out.
So, I decided to put proper structure into the business. I lost some customers because I had to increase my price but some people stayed because they saw the value and improvement in my work. It was a hard time but it paid off because now my clientele has increased. The business is almost 5 years old.
How did you manage your finances before & after Bamboo?
Phoebe: Before Bamboo, I was only into savings like I said earlier, but when I discovered Bamboo, it became an option to not only save my money in dollars but also invest in the stock market.
Would you say Bamboo has helped you as a person?
Phoebe: Yes! I wasn’t aware that someone in Nigeria could invest in the U.S. Stock market, especially with a little amount. Now, my eyes have been opened and I try to keep a certain amount to invest every month on the app.
What are some of the best things about your business that separates you from the competition?
Phoebe: The experience I give to my clients. One thing about me is that I love listening to people. I love when people express themselves, I want people to be able to see you and know the kind of person you are without you even uttering a word. I put this mindset into my designs and my customers love that about my brand, that’s why they keep coming back. Also, the quality of my outfits.
That’s good! WishingEsteni Signature all the very best!
Thank you very much for your time, we enjoyed this.
Here’s Phoebe’s business contact:
Personal page: @Phoebe Toluwani