When Dreams Turned Into Nightmares

7 comments

When we first visited Nigeria in 2016, we decided to start production there. Despite it not being a French speaking country, we saw many similarities with Cameroon. We got a sense of home. In 2019, we made the decision that all our Nigerian production would be dedicated to the online store, in order to allow our Cameroon factory to solely focus on our long awaited pop-ups. When lockdowns began and social distancing became necessary to keep our staff safe, we had to drastically reduce our production.

At the time, our kaftans had huge demand but we couldn’t source the materials and produce the numbers we needed. In the end, we refunded customers as we couldn’t guarantee when they would be delivered, if at all. All the processes became impossible to execute properly. Sourcing, shipping, customs clearance; we had perfected these things over the years and now they were worthless.

 Doing the right thing

We were frustrated as shipment dates would be confirmed and then continue to change. With little control over this, the only thing we could do is offer mass refunds. We also carried the emotional and financial burden of paying our factory workers their full salary, we knew what it meant for them to have fair salaries, and we did not want to be the reason they were plunged into poverty (especially in a global pandemic!).

We spent years planning our expansion, only for the pandemic to come and make all our plans impossible. We had been saving in order to make our pop-up dreams a reality, and 2020 was meant to be the year all this launched. We had always wanted to bring the Grass-fields experience to real-life. Over the years you guys have been asking for it, and we wanted you to have the experience; complete with catering, live artists and performers. However, in order to execute this well we had to make sure we had enough stock. Producing garments alone, took us over 6 months despite our Cameroon factory working at maximum capacity.


London was calling and we answered

After filming an advert and distributing it, it was clear that the demand was there, so we started to think about how we could make the experience accessible for everyone. We hired a space to be our ‘flagship’ pop-up store in London for 6 months! This cost us a huge amount of money. Plus, we had to sign a contract and pay 80% of the deposit upfront. At the same time, we had booked venues in other UK and European cities, so we had a lot of money tied up in these pop-ups. As our vision started to come together, we were ecstatic, years of planning and saving were finally paying off, or so we thought… 

Surviving now, thriving later

Covid then hit and it was made clear that there was no way any of our pop-ups could go ahead at all. With lots of stock sat stranded in Cameroon, and our London partners going into administration and causing us to lose £75,000, we were left deflated.

Through all of this we remain resilient. After all, we are still alive and that which does not kill you only makes you stronger. The past year has been one of rebuilding and adapting, but if it wasn’t for all your constant support we would not have been able to survive it. We have faith that we will be able to give you the full Grass-fields experience you deserve in the not so distant future.

7 comments

  • Posted on by Jennifer

    Thank you thank you, thanks. A beautifully struggle you and ypur workers went through. BLESSINGS always. I just got my two dresses yesterday. The are professional made, I appreciate the workmanship. My first order, will not be the last.

  • Posted on by Ohenewa

    Y’all are amazing! And absolutely we will continue to support as things get better, cheers

  • Posted on by Helen D

    There is absolutely nothing impossible for God to do. You 2 ladies are an inspiration to soo many. Keep up the good work. I have told everyone I know about your business. I love your clothes. You make a big girl like myself feel I can still look beautiful. No longer do I have to get my naija trads tailored made. Thank you soo
    Much. God bless you and your hustle. We are all rooting for you. Don’t ever give up !!!!

  • Posted on by Lisa Parker

    Be encouraged great women of vision. You and your sister have built a wonderful and new company. You’ve expanded and flourished. Then the COVID storm came and the hardships with it. And you did not lost your ship but instead you have obtained a wisdom and knowledge that no money can buy. The storm is coming to a end and the sun is peeking thru the clouds. In this next chapter of your next voyage, you both will navigate with steady hands and the faith that if you did once you can do it again! And even greater than before. I believe in you and will be a customer for life.

  • Posted on by Denise Karim

    I’ve been a loyal customer for at least 5+ Yrs. My spirit believes you will soar beyond your wildest dreams!

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