In March 2021, we started off an original content series called “Behind the brand” in a bid to celebrate and get to know more about the women who have signed up on Scrader as vendors. Now, we decided to take things a few notches higher and make it a safe space for vendors and small business owners across Lagos/Nigeria to share with us some of the struggles of running a business and how they navigate these issues. We kick off with Cassandra Collins, a digital content creator and owner of two small businesses in Lagos. She tells us about starting these two businesses at the age of 20, still working a regular job and her ordeals with terrible logistics companies.
Hi Cassy, tell us a little about yourself and the businesses you run.
My name is Cassandra Collins. I’m the owner of the Cassandra Collins brand, a female lifestyle clothing brand and smoothies by Cassy, a food business. I started my businesses about 3 years ago when I was 20 years old.
Wow. Starting a business especially at that age is quite courageous. What were your reasons ?
At first, I started my business because I had just left school and I didn’t have a job. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I started my fashion brand first because I am very enthusiastic about fashion and then, a few months after, I introduced smoothies by Cassy.
Nice. Tell us a little story about the time when a customer was not really satisfied with your product/service and it honestly was not your fault.
Okay so there was a time someone ordered a cup of smoothie and the logistics service picked it up for delivery around 10am and they did not deliver till the next day. They did not refrigerate it either and by the time it got to the customer, it had gone bad.
Omo. So what happened afterwards?
I had to make a full refund and the customer never patronised me again.
Wow. That must have been rough. So sorry about that.
Bad stories aside, please tell us a few things you wish you had known before starting your business.
I wish I had learned how to sew by myself because till today, I still experience a lot of trial and error with tailors.
Nigerian tailors sha. Lol…
I also wish I knew how to manage funds better because at first, when I just started my smoothie business, I was making money but I did not know how to manage it well. I didn’t know how to do my costing so I was basically underpricing my products/services.
Sounds tough. What’s the hardest part of running a business in Lagos?
There are so many hard things about running a business in Lagos but at the moment, I think the hardest part is the logistics.
How do you navigate this?
To be very honest, I go through a series of emotional breakdowns after which I either have to scream at them or find another company to work with. It’s very hard to find logistics companies that are reliable and when you find them, they’re quite expensive. It’s such a lose-lose situation.
I know, right?
So, if you weren’t running these businesses, what would you be doing?
I currently have a 9-5 job as well…
…I also work with a couple of brands by managing their social media accounts so if I weren’t running my businesses at all, I’ll still be doing these other things that I currently do.
Nice. There are a lot of emerging small businesses now using platforms like Scrader and Instagram to amplify their businesses. Tell us some ways you are able to make your business stand out.
The most important thing that helps my business stand out is the customer service. I know for a fact that my customer service is impeccable so even when there’s a hiccup, I know that I’m able to make it up to the customer. Another thing is my delivery timeline. Despite the fact that sometimes, logistics don’t go well, I still find a way to deliver before the time specified to the customers.
Money management seems to be one of the tough parts of starting and running a business. Please share a few tips for managing money as a small business owner.
I know that this sounds like common knowledge but please separate your personal account from your business account. Also, learn how to account for your cost price and profit early enough so you can reduce losses and finally, learn how to minimize your ad budgets but maximize the reach.
The last statement, how can people achieve that?
It’s simple. If you run a business, you just need to know who exactly you need to target. That way, you customize your ad reach and you don’t have to spend a lot trying to target people at random.
If you could sell 1000 units of any of your products right now, which would it be and why?
It would be my parfait. It’s a best seller and there’s no one that has had it who didn’t love it. Even people who are not so big on fruits or yoghurts also really like it.
I’m going to make you choose between the devil and the Red Sea. So, would you rather extremely unreliable logistics or constant failed payments?
This is hard o but I would pick constant failed payments. I have been there with unreliable logistics and I just don’t want to experience it again.
*Laughs*. Thankfully, vendors don’t experience any of that on Scrader.
Card payments or bank transfers?
For online shopping, I would go with card payments.
Take a quick look at Scrader.com/feed. What’s the first word that comes to mind?
Off the top of your head, no cheating – one word that rhymes with “e-commerce”
Umm…(Laughs). I can’t think of any word right now.
If you are a Nigerian small business owner or you know anyone that would be perfect for this and would like to share their stories about running a business, kindly send us an email.