Janet Falola @ankaraforshakara
C.E.O, ANKARA FOR SHAKARA (ONLINE ANKARA FABRICS STORE) 2010-Now
Miss Falola is one woman on a personal development journey who looks like someone who just walked off the cover of some high rise vogue magazine. But you would need to draw closer to know the woman behind the girly giggles, the entrepreneur underneath the layers of beautifully sewn posh Ankara fabric and eventually take a seat if you are to understand how this woman went from speaking “No English” to owning a booming business. Meet Janet Falola as she takes you on an Ankara decorated journey…
How did it all start?
Think of all the worst possible outcomes and begin to work out a solution in your mind
I started the busines of selling Ankara Fabrics from a deep need for personal development as student of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. I’m a Christian, from Ogun state, the first out of a family of five and also the only female child of my parents. When I first left Ogun state for Zaria, I thought about how to have constant cash flow because the only money I had was what my parents always sent as allowance at the end of the month.
I didn’t want to have to sleep around for money and so I had to think of something I could do to avert that. My parents were far from me so soliloquizing in my room, I began to ask myself questions like,
“What if the government didn’t pay my parents their salary?”
Again, “What if my parents could not send the money on time what would happen to me?”
I had no family or friends here in Zaria, so I began to sell recharge cards.
How did you transit from selling recharge cards to Ankara fabrics?
One day I travelled home for the holidays, and when it was time for me to come back to school, I took a big risk…I collected my school fees and used half of it to purchase Kampala from Itoku, Abeokuta and brought it to Zaria. God helped me and my customers paid on time. From there I raised capital, and started selling things like sandals, bags, beads, Ankara and Atiku. My mother advised me to start going to Cotonou market, and after she had first accompanied me there, I began to purchase my goods from there.
How did you overcome the language barrier?
Identify and acknowledge your weaknesses
I left home at age 12 to another environment and so when I came to Zaria in 2010, I could not relate with people well in English. It was quite a challenge1, I could not hold a conversation for long, and I hardly could understand what people said to me.
Although I was doing well academically, most of the gatherings you would see me then were largely Yoruba-speaking. Up until then, I was not sureI gave much heed to personal development talks. I am not saying it is a crime to know your language so well but the truth is if as a Secondary School graduate you cannot communicate in English language, it would eventually tell on your business and relationships. My opinion though.
What was the game changer?
Seek or accept help
As I was saying before I turned “chief adviser”, a friend of mine and neighbor, Okalor Prisca gave me a message preached by Apostle Joshua Selman Nimmak of Eternity Network International (E.N.I). I understood the message so well and I heard in the message how I could improve myself. I have always admired those beautiful Yoruba ladies who could speak English so well. I immediately told myself, “If I can work on myself then it also meant I could teach myself how to understand and speak good English.”
What next did you do to improve your communication skills?
Set personal development goals, be disciplined and determined to achieve them.
I minimized watching Yoruba movies and switched to American movies but I stikk could not understand what they were saying so I switched again to Nollywood, collected more gospel songs written in English and more messages of Apostle Joshua Selman.
I also studied the dictionary and got myself an English bible. Gradually it all began to change and my English got better. I started attending Koinonia, a weekly believer’s meeting put together by Eternity Network International (ENI). My home church has also helped me a lot with friends who often correct me when I say something wrong…I can now write poems and do lots of write ups in English language. Where personal development is concerned, I am not done working on myself but I’m so proud of where I am currently.
How did you expand the business?
Take advantage of social media
I attended a summit at my church Rhema Chapel International Churches, Zaria and there, FOREX Trader and Investor Ejimi Olufukeji Adegbeye spoke about how one could use Social Media to grow their business.
Interestingly, he is also the husband of the CEO of Sweetness Cakes, Hope Mari who you interviewed. So by divine instruction to do more of the Ankara Fabric business and the eye opening program I attended, Ankara for Shakara started online, both on Facebook and Instagram.
Describe your business
Know your business
Ankara for Shakara is all about Ankara fabric sales and it is basically an online store. At first, it was my love for African prints that made me go into the business even though Ankara fabrics did not originate from Africa. Ankara is the capital of Turkey. My store takes orders online and I sell to friends, lecturers and any interested nearby customer. We also do home deliveries and aso ebi orders for any ceremony.
Why Ankara Fabrics?
Ankara fabric is so diversified that it can be used for anything and can be rocked by anybody. It is 100% cotton and is affordable. My curiosity about the fabric however, piqued when I bought an expensive Ankara fabric and the next time I wanted to wear it, I couldn’t because it was faded.
This got me interested in knowing the reason why some of the fabrics bleed while washing and why some don’t. It became a passion and I might as well add that it was a divine direction from God.
Bleed and fade proof fabric
Build a community and structure around your value proposition
I use social media specifically Instagram to post the pictures of my new stock by putting my brand name and also my contact on each picture of the Ankara so any interested client can take a screenshot of the Ankara picture of his/her choice and send it to my DM (direct message) box . I also refer them to my WhatsApp for proper and easy communication. I do payment before delivery.
What are the challenges you have faced or are facing?
Grow your business through challenges
I sent a client her order one time and the client complained that what I sent was different from what she ordered in terms of color and that only one of the packages was okay. She went on to say “You online stores are like that” and that statement challenged me.
I don’t want to be that, I want to be different and excellent. I apologized and she did forgive me and I promised it was never going to happen again. I sat down and strategized ways to avoid this next time.
I have also had challenges academically and business-wise. It has not been easy at all but I thank God for Apostle Joshua Selman who taught me about time management and the work-life balance. In fact, during my last exam I got an order, meanwhile I was to write an exam the next day. @ankaraforshakara delivery is 24hours within the country. I had never done that before so I told myself I was not going to reject this order. I divided my time and my exam was well written and my client was satisfied.
What are your fear(s) if any?
One major fear I still have is the fear of some client thinking I am a scammer…Please I am not oh! I have built my Instagram community to over 10k followers and celebrities I love and respect so much are inclusive. I cannot because of 1million naira aso ebi order run away when I still have billions to make from that online store. So keep your orders coming.
Who are your role models?
Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, Nkechi Ngarry of nhn couture, Apostle Jemimah Mbaya of Latter House ministry , Apostle Joshua Selman of Eternity Network International and Chief Mrs. Olufunke Oladele of Milestone Mega company ( Fabric company) and actress Mercy Aigbe of Mag Divas Clothing Boutique.
What are your last words to the woman out there who sees you as her role model?
Find and live for something you are passionate about
When I wanted starting my online store, I told my mentor in person of Ejimi Adegbeye, that I didn’t have a good phone. He said to me,
“Janet nothing is limiting you, you are not just ready.”
I went back home reminiscing on that statement, and truly the day I was ready was the day I took action. I woke up one morning and I said was ready. I didn’t have enough money so I borrowed some more and it still wasn’t complete to buy the phone. I went to the phone store believing God for miracle and it did happen. So, take action too and start, start something when God sees your action, He’ll play along.
Personal development will cost you…you need to start doing the needful on social media. If there’s any skill you admire that can help you achieve your dreams, go and learn it. Educate yourself and believe in God’s ability in you. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you including learning how to speak good English.
Profiting from your passion
Start posting things about your passion– things that you can sell tangible or intangible. Make a commitment to start a personal development project in the areas of your giftings and talent. People need your talents, they want to pay you but how will they know you have this talent when all you do is to add to other people’s number of likes and friend list?
For bookings, orders, consultancy services or other enquiries, contact her here, 07037397483