After failing to get a job, Nakato is minting money from bracelets
Unemployment rates remain high and the Covid-19 pandemic has not helped matters by forcing several businesses to close their doors. The cry for employment is getting louder but with fewer jobs being chased by a number of youth, it is not about to stop.
Nancy Nakato would have been another unemployment statistic had she not decided to use her skills.
“After graduating with a Diploma in Human Resource Management at Makerere University Business School in 2019, I tried hunting for jobs but failed.”
In the meantime, she would keep herself busy by making bracelets from beads, leather, and yarn material, which she randomly gifted her friends. “Since I also love wearing bracelets, I would also look out for unique designs from other makers and buy them. However, after a while of looking for jobs in vain, I decided to fall back on my talent and start a small business to sustain myself.”
With love and passion leading the way, Nakato started Beads by Tete in June 2019 with only Shs50,000 from personal savings.
“I used this money to get materials such as pliers because they are a must-have, got beads of different colors and charms that I would use to make the bracelet look beautiful.” Her bracelets are usually lucky charm bracelets and some are personalized to the clients’ taste.
While she was zealous about the venture, the start was not easy. “The first few weeks were challenging because I did not know how to reach different clients. The only platform I had was social media yet I knew I had to do a bit more marketing. That said, I knew that with time, I would eventually catch up.”
Nakato’s first customer was a friend of hers; Ayak Deng Nuella to whom she sent samples of bracelets she had made in the past. Thankfully, she liked them and also shared the pictures with her friends. “Nuella took 6 bracelets and I charged her 5,000 Uganda shillings for each. From then on, she took it upon herself to market my bracelets, gave me different ideas, and advised me on how to make them better.”
The price I was charging also included the cost of materials and labour, something she learned by asking around from people who are doing the same business. “I learned that the only way to keep afloat and advance in business was by adding all your costs, intangible (time) and tangible (cost of material, airtime, transport costs).” Nakato also looked at the various competitors in the market before setting her price.
After delivering her first order, Nakato learnt that she just had to get better and nothing would stop her. “The first bracelets were beautiful with a lot of art in them because I had taken my time to learn different designs. From then on, I ensure that my products are up to standard and are of the best quality so that my customers are left yearning for more.”
Nakato also learned that one should not be afraid of trying because we cannot disqualify ourselves without trying. “Business doesn’t come easy and there are always challenges. However, the more persistent one gets, the easier it gets to reach your goal.”
Nakato adds that over the years, she has also learned to multitask. “Lately, I market, make as well as deliver the bracelets, which has improved my thinking and opened my mind to new ideas.”
I have learnt the need to be positive. The journey can sometimes be terrifying but keeping a positive attitude is a plus.”
Currently, Nakato works from home in Bweyogerere, Kirinya, but usually makes deliveries to clients who include friends and family, strangers and friends of friends. She gets these through sending pictures to her friends to post in their WhatsApp and Instagram groups.
“I also post pictures of my work on my WhatsApp status, Instagram as Beads by Tete and sometimes, I carry my products with me in case of impromptu sales. I also wear my products to attract customers.”
Inasmuch as she has passion, Nakato also looks to YouTube as well as Pinterest for inspiration and design ideas. “I also have customers who challenge me, asking me to make bracelets I have never made before. These have helped me become more creative and innovative.”
Being able to start an income-generating activity is a triumph for Nakato. “From the sales, I am able to meet all my needs. I have also inspired some of my friends to start different businesses regardless of how little they have for capital.”
Nakato makes Shs50,000 to Shs100,000 per week. She says that while not so many people understand bracelets, those that do usually buy in large quantities.
A case in point was when she had gone for an AIDS run at UMA show grounds in Kampala. “On that day, I met a lot of new people and went home after making sales worth 230,000 Uganda shillings.”
Starting, Nakato wishes she had had a better understanding of what the market desired. “In the beginning, I bought so many colourful beads and most of my friends rejected them saying they were childish colours. This was a blow and a loss right at the start.”
Nakato looks forward to opening a crafts school. “Apart from learning how to make bracelets and other crafts from various materials other than beads, I want to teach others the craft.” She also hopes to grow her business to the point of getting orders from people in other countries.