Entrepreneurship lessons for African Fashion Brands: How Hawkers Turned $300 into $60 million in 2 years

I don’t know about you, but I would love to turn $300 into $60 million dollars in 2 years. It seems so easy, yet I am sure that for most African Fashion brands, it would probably take heaven and earth to make such a huge sum. Nonetheless, it is possible hence the need for entrepreneurship lessons for African brands from people who have worked hard to make this possible. As most people involved in anything related to Africa knows, you are expected to fail, not just your first time, but your second, or third time before becoming successful.

Coming up with an African fashion brand that is successful from the start and them making profit from it is actually quite rare. But not for a company known as Hawkers Co, a D2C eyewear brand by Caleb Garrett and Alex Moreno. Granted they are not African fashion brands, but their many are beginning to believe that they have somehow cracked the code that many product-focused startups have been looking for. Using social media, facebook ads, and a “Reckless” attitude towards trying new things, here are lessons on how they turned $300 into $60 million as written by Aj Agrwal for Inc.com

1. Know your market.

When Moreno, the company’s CEO, first decided he wanted to launch Hawkers, he knew he wanted to make it accessible, affordable, and loved by a wide variety of individuals. Typically, brands must put a stake in the ground to understand their market and brand voice before casting the net as wide as possible, but according to Moreno, Hawkers is a different story largely due to the market it was infiltrating. Hawkers entered a market monopolized by Luxxotica, the eyewear giant responsible for brands including Prada, Ray-Ban, and Gucci. Garrett, an angel investor and U.S.-based partner in the company, tells me “you don’t need to screw people over to have a great, well-made product,”and it seems he is right. Hawkers glasses retail from $20 – $40, whereas a pair of Ray-Bans will run you around $200, and Hawkers eyewear is produced at the same manufacturing facility as most of Luxxotica’s brands.

Take great risks.

When Moreno used his last $300 to start the company, he had a prototype, and a simple website. Knowing he wanted pricing to stay low, he decided to sell exclusively online. According to Garrett, part of what attracted him to the company was that the team was unafraid to try everything in their power to get as many eyes on Hawkers as possible while shying away from traditional wholesale. “Because we had $300 when we started the company, we never looked at anything as a failure because no matter how big the company grows, if we were to shut down tomorrow, we only lost a few hundred dollars,” Moreno tells me. The team includes some of Moreno’s close friends and family with tech backgrounds, who advised him to purchase Facebook ads across many verticals. According to Moreno, at the time Facebook ads were getting a lot of negative press so testing out the algorithm as fast as they could to see what would generate the most sales seemed completely reckless. But they did it anyway. The “spray and pray”approach rarely works, but within weeks the Hawkers social media pages were exploding, sales began to skyrocket, and customer acquisition was pennies on the dollar.

Transparency will create an army of followers.

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