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The Naija Housewife is that rare woman who combines a solid home, a business and maybe a career successfully. She might face challenges, she might stumble sometimes, but she is consistent in her efforts to provide the best life she can for her family. Umo Ofili of Mumhood is a shining example of a Naija Housewife. Read her interview with Naija Housewives below and don’t forget to leave an encouraging word for her.
Tell us about you and anything else you would like us to know
My name is Umo Ofili. I am a lawyer and an entrepreneur from Calabar, CRS. I attended FGGC Calabar and graduated from the University of Abuja. I am a mother of 3 beautiful children and a wife to a very supportive and loving husband.
What is exactly is Mumhood?
I own a maternity fashion business which sells maternity formal and informal cloths such as trousers, dresses, shirts, blouses, jeans, skirts etc. We also sell new born baby essential such as bed sheets, blankets, diaper bags etc. We sell books on parenting, nursing bras, flat shoes and so much more. We also provide services such as baby shower planning and hospital gift bag packaging (for mother and baby).
How did you get involved in your business?
Soon after I started my career as a legal officer in 2006, I started toying with the idea of opening a business, where I could buy and sell for profit, with the aim of augmenting my primary income (I am a strong believer of having multiply sources of income). Since I like female fashion, I decided to specialize in a niche market because female fashion can be a very broad area to cover. I realized then that Abuja at that time did not have any specified maternity fashion shop. That inspired me to begin Mumhood in 2007.
Did you always know that you were going to be an entrepreneur or did you become one because of your circumstances at the time?
I have always loved to trade. In my mind I just wanted to own a business that was satisfying a need and generating a steady income. It was much later on that I became aware that this desire was entrepreneurial in nature.
There are many people who sell the same products that you sell; what makes you stand out from the crowd?
What makes us stand out from the crowd based on the feedback that we get from our customers is that we sell quality and unique items which are affordable and considerate in price. We do not sell mass produced items so you can be sure to wear clothes which are not all over town. Our clothes are stylish and can be worn post pregnancy. The women that patronize us are mainly professional women who need to dress fashionably smart to work.
Doing business in Nigeria is challenging for anybody. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome them (if you have)?
PHCN is one of my major challenges. The light situation can be poor sometimes. This affects my being able to use my computer sales software to execute transactions. Most times, we have to resort to recording our sales manually. Having no light in the shop when customers walk in is very hot and uncomfortable for them. We have since installed a generator but we suffer not light when there is fuel scarcity in town. To mitigate this we try to keep fuel in storage as we need electricity to keep our environment functional and comfortable for our customers.
Another challenge we face, is the constant rising cost of the dollar and pound. This affects the cost of our items especially after you need to add other cost like freight charges & several other operational costs. We however try not to make our prices exorbitant or else we know that we will chase away our clients.
Where and how do you meet your clients?
We meet our client’s at antenatal clinics within Abuja city, online via Google search & Facebook, referrals by customer’s friends & family and through the distribution of flyers and bulk SMS.
How and where did you meet your husband?
I meet my husband in Abuja, at my aunt’s house while I was staying there, while waiting to start law school. He had given a friend of mine (who happened to be an old friend of his) a ride to my place.
How supportive has he been of your entrepreneurial pursuits?
He has been very supportive. He has an MBA and is always prepared to share his skills and knowledge with me in order to improve the business. When he travels, he helps me to shop and sometimes accompanies me for my business trips. Also, he supports me financially from time to time when I need a soft loan. This has saved me from having to approach banks for small loans. I appreciate his efforts for me and my business.
How do you keep a healthy work/family balance?
Sometimes it is not easy especially since I opened a second branch end of 2013. This means that I have to shuttle between two shops which are located in two different districts in the FCT. By the time I am done with my day, I am sometimes too tired to help my children with their homework when I get back home. When I noticed this trend, I had to cut back on my stay at the shops so that I can have time to do several other things that require my attention. I cannot afford to be too busy for my family and home life.
Go through a typical day in the life of Umo.
My family and I pray before we start our day, I get the children ready for school, I prepare their breakfast and pack their school lunch, I drop them off at school, go to work, manage Mumhoods orders, phone and email enquiries. Update my mumhood page on face book, Go over the day before activities in the various branches, pick up the kids. Take them home and go back to work. I find time some days to go the gym or cook special meals periodically for my children since they like that.
What advice do you have for women out there who want to start their own businesses?
Start! Start small. If you wait for millions to begin in business, you will always think you don’t have enough. Once you start, it will grow and progress especially when you commit to making your business a success.
Do you have anything to say to us?
Thank you so much for featuring my business. I love your forum for naija mums. I find your topics interesting and informative. I wish you the best in your endeavors.
To get in touch with Mumhood, use the contact details below or visit any of their stores when you are in Abuja.
Phone: 08189015952(whatsapp no.) 08037874106
Address: Shop D28 Efab Mall, Area 11, Garki, Abuja.
& Shop SF21 Berger Paint Plaza, behind new Banex plaze, Wuse II, Abuja.
This interview is part of the series tagged “The Woman Entrepreneur.” If you know anyone whose story should be told, or you would like to share yours. get in touch with us using the contact form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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