NDUUVITEKO Anna Mushimba (NM), aged 28, took a leap into entrepreneurship making beautiful and elaborate paper flowers through her company, By Invite CC. The affable businesswoman has a warehouse studio in Windhoek’s Katutura area and a staff complement of five to help run her business. By Invite CC caters for various events including weddings, baby showers or simply decorations for homes.In a recent interview with Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN), Mushimba passionately spoke in detail about her craft – empowering fellow women and her hopes for the future to connect and add value to the lives of her clients.
MN: Briefly tell us about yourself, background?
NM: I am Nduuviteko Anna Mushimba, and I am 28 years old. I was born in the northern part of Namibia and I have always been very passionate and really hardworking. Once I put my mind to something, it will most probably come to fruition. Growing up, I have always been creative amongst my peers and siblings and I was known to be the one with a creative solution to any puzzle. I truly believe I have the power to manifest.
MN: Tell us about the establishment of By Invite CC and the services it offers?
NM: By Invite is a creative craft business. The company started out only providing luxury invitations to the general public and more recently added paper flower designs. This has seen our studio booked in advance. We believe in sourcing only good quality paper and providing beautiful, unique and certainly long lasting flower creations to our customers at a fair price. We specialise in creating paper flowers for events and decor and aim to empower women locally to create their own paper based creative businesses. In fact, we recently held a second workshop to train women on how to create their own paper flowers. We love paper flowers and our passion is wrapped up in each petal.
MN: What triggered your interest of crafting paper flowers?
NM:I have always been a creative soul. I opted to use my creativity to identify a niche market to deliver a product not readily available in Namibia. Fresh flowers, particularly in large quantities, are far more expensive and less economical. This is due to decreased durability in comparison to paper flowers. I wanted to offer Namibian consumers a more economical, versatile and aesthetically pleasing option in terms of flower decor and a luxury option for invitation cards; which the Namibian public has taken interest in.
MN: What are challenges and opportunities facing your business?
NM: When you are introducing a new product to the market, it is always hard at the beginning. People fear what they do not understand. I knew it was my responsibility as an innovator to make people fall in love with my product. Once we crossed that bridge, the reception has been amazingly overwhelming. With confidence, I can now say that paper flowers have become a special part of most events and interior decorations. I am happy that our creativity is in demand, that it is constantly developing and that it is enhancing the celebrations and interior spaces of our customers.
MN: How has the market reacted your business?
NM: The response has been great. It’s truly humbling to know that the By Invite’s paper flowers have not only been received so well, but that they have also created an industry. Especially with the workshops we host, we have now created a sisterhood, a network and a platform for other creative female entrepreneurs to be inspired and empowered.
MN: Tell us about the types of flowers you make?
NM: We make about 10 different types of flowers at the moment. We use foam and paper to make them. On average, a flower can take about an hour to eight hours to make. It depends on the material, size and complexity. Flowers can be used almost everywhere; from weddings, baby showers to corporate events. Flowers are almost part of every occasion. They can also be used as interior decor and window displays.
MN: Where do you see your business in five years’ time?
NM: When I started By Invite, it was never about me. I wanted to create an industry that positively impacts lives, especially with my master classes. I want to impact and take with me as many women as possible on my journey. In five years, I hope that it will still be an industry that solves a problem, an industry that connects, inspires and adds value to the lives of others. This industry should not only focused in Namibia, but for the rest of Africa as well.
MN: What advice do you have for fellow women and youth who are keen on taking up this type of craft as a business?
NM: I believe in something called “purposeful money”. Understand why you are doing and what you are doing. Your business needs to solve a problem or address a particular need. This will ensure that you will stay in business. Have a passion for it. Have fun and remember that hard work is at the centre of every entrepreneur.
MN: What is it that people don’t know about you?
NM: I am highly spiritual. I spend four years studying in India and I’ve gotten a very good understanding of divinity.
MN: Just what do you do for little fun?
NM: I cook. I find cooking therapeutic and I really enjoy hosting my close friends and family.
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