Platrtalk with Halima Abba

In the realm of fashion and entrepreneurship, there are individuals who possess a unique blend of creativity, passion, and a relentless drive for success. Halima Abba, the President of Jasmin Ltd and Leemseeythebrand, stands as a shining example of such a visionary leader. In this captivating interview, we had the privilege to sit down with Halima as she graciously shared her personal stories, valuable insights, and the remarkable journey that has led her to the pinnacle of the fashion industry. With a focus on her awe-inspiring creations and the invaluable contribution of her exceptional team, this interview provides an intimate glimpse into the world of Halima Abba and the extraordinary success of Jasmin Ltd and Leemseeythebrand. Join us as we delve into the inspiring narrative of a trailblazer who continues to leave an indelible mark on the fashion landscape.

How would you introduce yourself
I am Halima Abba. President of Jasmin Ltd and Leemseey the brand.

How did you venture into owning a footwear brand?
Halima: Initially, I had no knowledge of shoe making, but I had a strong desire to establish my own shoe brand. I decided to seek out the expertise of a skilled cobbler. After some searching, we found a highly skilled cobbler who showed great enthusiasm and support for my idea of starting a footwear brand. He encouraged me to familiarize myself with the shoe making process, even if I wouldn’t be personally involved in the production. This knowledge, he explained, would be valuable for effective execution. Under his guidance, I learned extensively about the art of shoe making, branding, sourcing materials, and even explored other essential aspects such as packaging. Our driver played a vital role too, introducing me to the printing press responsible for creating the paper bags for my brand. It was through this collective effort and guidance that I embarked on the journey of owning a footwear brand.

How does social media and online platforms contribute to your ability to stay updated with trends?
Halima: To stay informed and up-to-date with the latest trends in the shoe industry, I actively utilize social media and online platforms. I have subscribed to newsletters from renowned shoe brands, specific designers, and blogs that focus on the world of footwear. These newsletters provide valuable insights, showcasing new collections, upcoming styles, and industry news.
In addition to newsletters, I follow numerous shoe companies and brands on my social media platforms. By doing so, I have access to a constant stream of content that showcases the latest shoe designs, fashion collaborations, and emerging trends. It allows me to gain inspiration from the creative and innovative approaches of successful companies in the shoe industry.
Moreover, I pay attention to influencers, fashion enthusiasts, and shoe reviewers who share their insights and opinions on social media. Their perspectives and reviews often shed light on emerging trends, popular styles, and the overall reception of different shoe designs in the market.
By actively engaging with social media and online platforms, I am able to stay connected to the pulse of the industry, ensuring that I am aware of the latest trends, consumer preferences, and innovations. This knowledge enables me to make informed decisions in my own footwear brand, staying relevant and meeting the demands of the ever-evolving fashion landscape.

Can you provide some information about your team?
Halima: The composition of my current team consists of individuals with varying lengths of experience. On average, the team members have been with me for about a year and a half. However, there are two team members who have been part of the team for an impressive four years, demonstrating their loyalty and commitment to our collective goals.
To efficiently manage the operations and day-to-day activities, I have appointed a Chief Operations Officer (COO) who plays a crucial role in hiring individuals based on project requirements. This allows us to bring in specialized talent on a contractual basis, ensuring that we have the right people for specific job roles.
We have a Chief Technical Officer (CTO) who oversees the design and maintenance of our website. Their expertise in website development and management ensures that our online presence remains strong and user-friendly, catering to the needs of our target audience.
To support the smooth functioning of the overall business, I have two dedicated assistants. One assistant specifically assists with tasks related to Jasmin Ltd, while the other supports Leemsy the brand. Their responsibilities encompass a range of activities, including research, logistics, and administrative support, ensuring that operations run efficiently.
When it comes to the production of our shoes, there are three skilled workers who are responsible for crafting the footwear. Their expertise lies in the manufacturing process, bringing to life the designs and materials I provide. This collaborative effort between the production team and myself ensures that the final products meet the quality standards and aesthetic vision of our brand.
As the leader and founder of the footwear brand, I handle the design aspect and work closely with the production team. This involvement allows me to oversee the creative direction and ensure that the materials used align with our brand’s vision and values.
Overall, the team is structured to optimize efficiency and leverage the strengths of each member. Together, we strive to deliver exceptional products and services, maintaining the growth and success of our brand in the competitive market.

How do you manage an excessive workload?
Halima: As someone who values growth and embraces new challenges, I understand that managing an excessive workload can be overwhelming. When I find myself faced with tasks that exceed my capacity, I adopt a strategic approach to address the situation.
Firstly, I recognize the need to delegate and outsource certain tasks to individuals who possess the necessary skills and expertise. I believe in sharing my passion with like-minded individuals who are interested in and share the same goals as me. By entrusting specific responsibilities to capable professionals, I can effectively distribute the workload and ensure that each task receives the attention and expertise it requires.
For example, when I realized the importance of having a website for my company, I decided to outsource the development and maintenance of the website to a team of experts. Although I am also a computer scientist and could have built the website myself, I carefully considered the potential impact on my productivity and the long-term maintenance requirements. I reached out to a friend who is also a computer scientist and sought their advice on creating a more efficient and cost-effective solution. Based on their recommendation, I made the decision to bring on board a Chief Technical Officer (CTO) who could oversee the website development and maintenance while allowing me to focus on other essential aspects of the business.
While outsourcing certain tasks may come at a cost, I consider it an investment in the overall efficiency and productivity of the business. By collaborating with skilled professionals and leveraging their expertise, I can alleviate the burden of excess workload and maintain a focus on tasks that align with my strengths and responsibilities.
Effectively managing an excessive workload requires a strategic approach that involves delegation, outsourcing, and seeking advice from experts. By distributing tasks to capable individuals and focusing on areas where I can make the most impact, I can maintain productivity, ensure efficient operations, and ultimately drive the success of my business.

Have there been instances where your employees have altered your designs?
Halima: As the president and creative force behind my brand, I have the final authority and decision-making power when it comes to approving designs. While I value the input and suggestions of my team members, it is essential to maintain the integrity and vision of the brand.
In my company, it is crucial for customers to recognize and associate the designs with Jasmin. Therefore, all design elements need to align with my vision and the brand identity we have cultivated. I firmly believe that maintaining consistency and a cohesive brand image is essential for success in the competitive business landscape.
While I am open to hearing the opinions and perspectives of my team members, any alterations or modifications to the designs ultimately require my approval. This approach ensures that the final product represents the essence of Jasmin and meets the high standards that I have set for the brand.
In my personal opinion, introducing democracy into a business environment can sometimes hinder productivity and dilute the uniqueness of the brand. By maintaining a centralized decision-making process for design approvals, I can ensure that the designs reflect the core values and aesthetics that resonate with our target audience.
It is important to foster a collaborative environment where ideas can be shared, and feedback can be given. However, the final decision on design modifications rests with me as the leader and creative visionary of the company.
In conclusion, while I value the input of my employees, the approval of designs is ultimately my responsibility as the president. This approach allows for consistency, brand recognition, and the preservation of the unique design aesthetic that sets Jasmin apart in the market.

Have you encountered any memorable experiences in your journey as a clothing and shoe merchant?
Halima: One of the most memorable experiences I had as a clothing and shoe merchant was during the early stages of my business. It was during the Eid period when we received a surge of orders for footwear. Being a new business owner, I was thrilled to have so many clients placing their orders, and without much consideration, I accepted all of them.
As the Eid day approached, I realized that I had taken on more orders than my cobblers could handle within the given timeframe. It was a challenging situation as we were unable to fulfill all the orders in time. I found myself in a dilemma, with many frustrated clients expecting their footwear.
To make up for the inconvenience caused, I decided to offer an extra pair of shoes to almost every client who had been affected by the delay. While this resulted in a significant financial loss for the business, it was a necessary step to compensate and retain the trust of our clients.
Interestingly, this experience turned out to have a positive outcome in the long run. Around 60% of the clients who received the compensation returned to make more purchases and became loyal customers. It was a lesson learned for me and a valuable piece of advice for those entering the footwear business. It is crucial to carefully manage the number of orders and ensure efficient delivery processes. Taking on more orders than one can handle can lead to customer dissatisfaction and financial repercussions.
Another memorable experience I had with my clothing brand, Leemsy, was when I created a design that I considered to be unique and somewhat unconventional. Initially, I had doubts about its market appeal and whether it would sell well. However, to my surprise, the design garnered a significant amount of attention, generated a high number of views, and resulted in numerous sales. What was even more gratifying was that influential individuals and influencers reposted the design without any payment or sponsorship.
This experience taught me the importance of taking risks and being open to unconventional ideas. It reinforced the notion that creativity and uniqueness can attract attention and resonate with customers, even when initial expectations may suggest otherwise. It encouraged me to continue pushing boundaries and exploring innovative designs in my business.

How do you manage the demands of your personal and work life?
Halima: Balancing the demands of personal and work life is a crucial aspect of maintaining overall well-being and ensuring sustainable success. In my experience, creating efficient processes and fostering effective teamwork has been instrumental in achieving this balance.
As a team, we constantly ask ourselves a fundamental question: “Will this company continue to thrive without you?” This question serves as a reminder that no one person should be indispensable to the functioning of the business. It highlights the importance of building a strong foundation and implementing well-defined processes that allow the company to operate smoothly, even in the absence of specific individuals.
By continuously improving our processes, we strive for efficiency and effectiveness. We are not afraid to embrace change and remain dynamic in our approach. This enables us to adapt to new challenges and seize opportunities as they arise.
Teamwork plays a significant role in balancing personal and work life. Each team member has their assigned tasks and responsibilities, and we ensure that everyone understands and fulfills their roles efficiently. I personally focus on delivering the designs and providing frequent supervision, while the rest of the team handles various aspects of the business operations.
When everyone on the team performs their tasks adequately, it alleviates the pressure and workload on individuals. This, in turn, allows for a more balanced distribution of responsibilities and provides everyone with enough breathing space to manage their personal lives effectively.
Furthermore, it is essential to set boundaries and prioritize self-care. Establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life helps create a healthy separation and prevents burnout. I believe in the importance of taking time for oneself, pursuing hobbies, spending quality time with loved ones, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation.
Regular communication and open dialogue within the team also contribute to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. By fostering an environment where team members can discuss their needs, concerns, and ideas, we can collectively find solutions that promote well-being and ensure a harmonious integration of personal and work commitments.
Managing the demands of personal and work life requires a combination of effective processes, teamwork, setting boundaries, and prioritizing self-care. By continuously improving processes, delegating tasks, and fostering open communication, it is possible to strike a balance that allows for personal fulfillment and professional success.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a footwear business in Nigeria?
Halima: If someone wants to start a footwear business in Nigeria, my advice to them would be to embrace uniqueness and originality. It is crucial to stand out from the competition and not simply replicate what others are doing. While research is important for understanding the market and identifying trends, it is essential to avoid copying designs or concepts from other brands.
Copying may provide short-term gains, but it hinders the ability to develop an authentic and distinctive brand identity. Once a business gets accustomed to copying, it becomes challenging to break free from that pattern and establish a reputation for originality. Therefore, aspiring entrepreneurs should strive to be different and bring something new and fresh to the table.
Having a strong sense of company integrity is also vital. In the case of my brand, Leemsy, we are an African-based fashion company that draws inspiration from African culture and creates designs that are uniquely African. Our goal is to showcase the beauty of African fashion and designs to the global market. This commitment to our roots and the promotion of African creativity is the foundation on which our company stands.
I would encourage entrepreneurs to invest time in understanding their target market, identifying their customers’ preferences, and addressing any gaps or opportunities in the industry. Building a strong brand image, delivering high-quality products, and providing excellent customer service are key factors for success.
It is crucial to continually innovate and evolve with changing trends and customer demands. Staying ahead of the curve and adapting to market dynamics will ensure that the business remains relevant and competitive.
I’ll use myself as an example. I draw inspiration from unexpected sources, allowing me to create unique and artistic shoes and dresses. Each individual piece carries its own story and meaning. One particular design that stands out is the incorporation of Adire, a popular Nigerian fabric, into my creations. While Adire is commonly used in clothing, I decided to explore its potential in footwear. With the help of some Adire fabric provided by a friend, I infused my creativity and expertise to craft a stunning pair of Adire shoes, unveiling a captivating fusion of traditional and contemporary elements.
In conclusion, my advice to anyone aspiring to start a footwear business in Nigeria is to be unique, maintain company integrity, and embrace the rich cultural heritage of the country. By creating original designs, understanding the target market, and staying resilient, entrepreneurs can establish a brand that not only stands out but also contributes to the growth and recognition of Nigerian fashion on a global scale.

In conclusion, Halima Abba, a successful entrepreneur in the Nigerian footwear industry, has provided valuable advice for aspiring business owners. She emphasizes the importance of embracing uniqueness, originality, and authenticity in order to stand out from the competition. By understanding the target market, addressing gaps in the industry, and continuously innovating, entrepreneurs can create a strong brand image and deliver high-quality products. Halima’s own brand, Leemsy, showcases her commitment to African culture and creativity, incorporating unique elements such as Adire fabric into her designs. With Halima Abba’s insights and dedication, aspiring footwear entrepreneurs in Nigeria can be inspired to create their own success stories and contribute to the growth of Nigerian fashion on a global scale.

You can see more of Halima Abba and her work here.

Personal IG : @imsoofalse

Business IG : @buyjasmine, @leemseeythebrand

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