Origin Story: With the support and guidance of the DivInc team and mentor network, I founded ‘inala’ after living, working, and traveling abroad over the last 8 years. During this time, I noticed fast-growing consumer demand for socially-responsible goods with a story.
Originally, I responded to this demand with a direct-to-consumer brand focused on partnering with artisans to produce fashion-forward accessories that preserve traditional craftsmanship techniques of the African Diaspora.
However with border closures and cancelled trade shows brought on by the pandemic, I realized a bigger impact could be made in the $664B global handicraft sector by leveraging tech to streamline sourcing, production, and relationship management.
Biggest Obstacle I’ve Faced: My biggest challenge is being a first generation entrepreneur outside of the traditional funding hubs. Given that I don’t have access to a network of wealthy folks who could participate in a “friends and family” round, I’m currently undercapitalized.
In order to overcome this, I’ve spent the last year expanding my network through travel and participating in programs such as DivInc and Founder Gym.
Advice I’d give someone thinking of starting their own business: Let your intuition be your guide. As you start down the path of entrepreneurship, you’ll be inundated with noise from the internet and advice from well-meaning people on how you should and could be doing business.
Strike a balance between trusting your gut and your own expertise, taking sound-advice from people who’ve beentheredonethat, and remembering why you started. If you don’t, you’ll spend a lot of time navel-gazing and in decision-paralysis which robs both you and your business of what it needs to have momentum - even if it’s just a little bit. Make informed-decisions fast, trust yourself, and don’t be afraid to fail aka learn.
Oh, and...lawyers and accountants are always worth the expense when starting out and are your partners in building a sustainable company.
Follow inala on Twitter at @inalahq!