As Low As $20k, You Can Start A Sportswear Brand in Nigeria - Without Owning A Factory Or Manufacturing Anything

Gone are the days of Glo, when you wait to be as big as Mike Adenuga and raise capital as large as $100 million before you can start off a business like this. I guess you are thinking of Nike and Adidas as your primary competitors. NO!

when it comes to sportswear business it is different.There's been a resurgence in the way the business is done both practical and stylish, You don't  need to build a large factory and employ super-cool tailors, and designers... they are all  there for you in Bangkok, Bangladesh, China and Dubai...

Do your research. The first thing you will find out is that most big names you know in the Sportswear business, do not even own a factory... THEY DON'T MANUFACTURE ANYTHING THEMSELVES! That may surprise you as well as inspire you to know that you can realize your dream business from where you are now.

The most essential thing you require is to first do a market research. Of course, you must be driven by your own vision and passion for the business. The second thing that will Surprise you is when you find out how easy and not too expensive it is to start the business.

I and John Mudi, my friend and a renowned fashion designer, who have devoted over 10 years in the research study of Sportswear Business in Nigeria, will be giving you some insight here. I'm sure you will run out of your shells immediately you finish reading this post.

Ok, Mudi why did  you decided to go into the study of sportwear market in Nigeria?

"I've always wanted to work for myself, and whilst I’ve worked in some big blue-chip companies, I’ve always felt there was something out there calling me which would allow me to indulge some of my passions for design and football.

"My friends and I have often talked about it...  How to get fans in Nigeria to idenify with the local clubs through distribution of their replica jerseys; just the way they identify with PL clubs and the sales of their merchandise flourishing here in Nigeria.

Market leaders in the industry: Nike, Adidas, Puma, Reebok, Kappa...hasn't shown any form of interest in the Nigerian Sportswear market.. So the market is largely left fallow...  But there's the latent need to fill them now... Thanks to Owu Sportswear who took the initiative first.

What Qualifications, Skills, Capital and Equipment are required?
"There aren't any qualifications needed to set up in the industry - just a bit of experience and nous. Whilst I have an OND, a degree and post-grad qualifications in Fine Arts and Marketing,  I’ve found the skills I’ve drawn on the most, are ones that I've developed over the years in the various roles I had with the big blue-chips.

The most important skills you need are interpersonal ones; I can’t emphasise the importance of being able to relate to people from all walks of life, and all levels. The old adage of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” makes the business world go around, so getting out and talking to influencers, contacts, and industry stalwarts is a must. I’ve found being open, receptive to feedback, and interested in anyone who is interested in the business, has opened many doors. My point is, create exceptional customer service routines.

You can raise $20,000 as start up Capital, which includes buying all the stock, importing, brochure and website production.

In terms of equipment, you can start with a laptop, a phone, and internet connection… Once you start attending trade shows and exhibiting Samples of your products, then people will begin to make inquiries.  First, you need promotion and branding to support this, You should have an ecommerce website running for online transactions as well.

Market research
Market research ranged from estimating demand to quantitative data from the football market in Nigeria. Anecdotal information is feedback from fans, and footballers asked for comment on their perceptions of local sportwear brand. Your interview of sports shops staff, and buyers of their opinions and current trends in sports apparel market etc.

Interestingly, we have local brand in Nigeria... A research into their operations and distribution system is necessary. Find a friend or two who works with Owu Sportswear  and let them help you navigate through the market.

Perhaps, if you can also find a friend who works with the worlds largest sportswears, Nike or Adidas... Just chat over a beer can give you some good insight about the business.

Finally, if you are a football fan or player, you are already aware of some of the trends in football fashion, so it will be a case of pulling all these pieces of knowledge and information together to support your business plan.

Have A Business plan and Model:
The essence of market research is to fetch information that will help you draw up your business plan and model..which include demand and supply analysis. Finding the right country and company to Outsource the designing and production of the wears, the importation processes, then marketing...branding and brand building, pricing, distribution, promotion and Public Relations (5Ps of Marketing).

Finding the right Country/ Sportswear Manufacturing Company that Can Handle Your Production
 We have many Sportswear brands producing in China and UAE because of cheap labour and availability of foundry infrastructures.  Other options could be Bangladesh, Bangkok...You should consider  lag time between ordering and delivering of product to Nigeria. You must seriously consider which of the countries can offer you a cheaper export/ import duties... This will determine your landing cost here in Nigeria and of course, your selling price.

Make enquiries from the Chamber of Commerce and industries of these countries mentioned. Some of them could be found online.

Find the Right Premises and Storage
Sincerely, you can start form home, but also negotiate a storage space (and a desk when you need it) to meet with your distributors. You may choose the Just In Time (JIT) model, where you first get distributors who are willing to carry a certain quantity of your brand before informing your manufacturer to produce just in time to meet demand... That may help  reduce initial cost of warehousing until growth and expansion comes.

Launch marketing
Focus mainly on social media, with postings via Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Create a newsletter you can send periodically to subscribers and distributors. This could help spread the word out to key industry contacts.

Market Penetration strategies
- You may decided to soft launch across different platforms. You can also slowly build your brand via seeding, focusing on certain people in your target market... then gifting them products, or supporting them in their chosen discipline eg. young and up-coming footballers at the grassroots who are without sponsors, and supporting local football tournaments.

- You can also exhibit the artwork/ photography of the kits in any football event, stadiums or sports shopping malls,  which can raise fantastic interest and profile of the brand.

Tips to other thinking of market peneration
- Networking: it is amazing who you know who can help. Input and support has come from the most unlikely of sources. A random e-mail to NPFL and other clubs prosposing a deal to kit them.

- Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and I would say from literally anyone. The worst they can say is no, and if they are negative in their response, move on and find someone else who will say yes. For every no, there are ten people who have been where you are, and know how tough it can be, and will help.

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