By Ayo Alonge
HE started making money as an undergraduate and his small business has, today, grown far bigger than what it used to be. Emeka Monu, the CEO of Russul Boutique, an online men’s clothing outfit, has a quite fascinating success story to tell. In this interview, he reflected on how he started from scratch and how he has been able to attain lofty heights in business. The Banking and Finance graduate of the University of Lagos, who hails from Delta State, says he would like to hand over the business to his children and even grandchildren, revealing how lucrative it is. Monu also reflected on his challenges while
What’s your business all about?
I run Russul Boutique which is an online shopping mall for the corporate man. I have an understanding that dressing is not just how you look but who you are on the inside. You can look classy and highly responsible and that’s our business at Russul.
What was your childhood like? Did your parents support you when you were starting up?
I grew up in a family of six. My mom is a fashion designer and my father is an entrepreneur. I got the designing aspect from my mom’s business.
Their support did not come in monetary form but seeing what my father and mother were doing then, I was made to understand a lot of things in business, at a very early age. Even when I made mistakes, I could go back to my parents and learn to get things right.
I was born, bread and buttered in Lagos. I had my primary and secondary education in Lagos and I attended the University of Lagos where I studied Banking and Finance and I did
my NYSC also in Lagos (laughs). Although I studied Banking and Finance, I don’t regret going into business today. It was a hobby initially. I was just exploring designing and making people look good and before I knew it, I was in the fashion business.
A business like this requires huge capital to start-up. How did you get that?
Some will first consider money to start a business but it’s beyond money. First, is what you have in mind and how serious you are. I started by buying clothes for friends and getting paid for my services. I discovered that the harder I worked, the more opportunities came to me. Many kept giving me money to do business and paying back on certain dates. Bit by bit, that was how I was able to raise the capital.
So, with your capital available, when did you start the business?
I started when I was at 200 level and with female clothing. My sister sent some clothes to me to help her sell. After trying to sell to some ladies, I found out that they were willing to buy more. I reinvested my profit on more goods.
Did you encounter any setbacks?
I faced a lot of challenges. The e-commerce industry is something most Nigerians have not embraced and the major challenge was about internet services, many years back when it was not yet popular. Secondly, I faced challenges in the area of delivery and dispatch. People saw our designs online and when they saw the original product, they sometimes discarded them, not minding what difficulty we went through to send the products to them and it was quite discouraging. Another challenge was staffing initially. We had qualified people to do the job but we couldn’t pay them.
How much of patronage do you have in e-commerce compared to the regular offline business?
If you do your adverts well and you concentrate, you can get a huge traffic.