“If you have the passion, the better days will always trump the challenges.”
Ellen Ngondjodhi Emvula is an entrepreneur and the owner of Ellen’s Deco Trading cc, otherwise known as Edéco. Ellen was born and raised in a village near Okahao called Onandjila, in the Omusati Region. She completed her primary and secondary education at Oshuulagulwa Combined School and Ongandjera Senior Secondary School, respectively.is a Creative Artist, Entrepreneur and a Diagnostic Radiography Technician by profession. After graduating, Ellen worked at Onandjokwe Lutheran Medical Service X-ray department for 4 years before eventually moving on to work at Grootfontein Private Hospital X-ray department for another 4 years. She is currently working at Medirad Medical Radiology in Grootfontein.
“While working at Medirad, when I don’t have patients, I started working on my home craft in my office, during lunch hour and also after hours, because of the love I have for unique home products – that is when Edéco Home Luxury was established in 2013.”
Tell us about Edéco, the products & services you offer and the team behind your start-up, if any.
“Ellen’s Deco Trading cc (Edéco) was established in 2013 but I only started to operate officially in 2018. Edéco Home produces various home products, ranging from:
- bespoke wood furniture,
- wall décor art, as well as
I produce woodwork craft by order. Customers generally order specialized and stylized woodwork craft, which I produce according to their specifications.”
What inspired you to start this business?
“It started off as a hobby that I did not realize I was in dire need of. I have always been quite creative; I always sought to improve my skillset with every opportunity that I got. The inspiration for starting up my own business came as a result of one such opportunity. I started making my own furniture at an experienced friend’s workshop. At first, it was simply a therapeutic weekend hobby, and my craft was only for my home.
In the days that followed, family and friends would always compliment me on my work, noting that my craft made my house beautiful. Many began asking me to help with their own homes and wanted to get their hands on my craft. Initially, I did it for free for some close friends. When the interest and demand expanded beyond my circle (family and friends), I started seeing the lucrative potential and realized that I had to start up the business.”
What do you enjoy most about being your own boss, and did you always know you wanted to delve into entrepreneurship?
“Entrepreneurship was never the primary objective; it really was just another weekend hobby. I have been faced with multiple entrepreneurial opportunities before, but I never took an interest because they were never about something that I was passionate about. Committing to an entrepreneurial endeavor that I’m not passionate about would have been taxing.
That said, I truly love and enjoy the work that I do now, and I am glad that I have delved into entrepreneurship. Being my own boss is really the icing on the cake – I cannot imagine someone else calling the shots on my passion.”
What sets your products/services apart from those in the same industry?
“I do not only produce generic woodwork craft – I create the products according to the customer’s specification. It is not just about the art, but about the customers’ desires and preferences. Edéco Home Products are modern, fashionable and are uniquely identifiable by the signature rustic edge and celebration of the African culture and heritage. Because all of our products are handmade, no one’s product is the same, giving each piece a unique touch. They are products that cannot be found anywhere else, they are completely custom-made.”
What challenges have you encountered on your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome some of them?
“As expected, there have been many challenges throughout my entrepreneurial journey. The main challenge is not always having the required machinery and materials, and not having my own workshop. It is especially true because I stay in a small town, I have to travel to the city a lot for some necessary equipment (some of which are almost impossible to find).
I overcame that challenge by producing my craft through an already established workshop that has most of the machinery I’d need. However, this is a temporary solution because I am aiming to eventually have my own workshop in future. For the stock that is difficult to find, I have resorted to online shopping. Then there was the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns that impacted import. There are of course the more personal challenges such as discouragement too, but I always remind myself of the love that I have for my work.”
What is your business philosophy?
“My business’s vision and mission are my business philosophy. The mission is to produce and provide local craft that livens up your home, and the vision is to become an efficient, recognized and profitable home products business that inspires creativity and ingenuity. These are not just some purposeless business jargon used to fill the pages of a brochure; these are principles that I have applied and upheld on every step of my journey.”
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this industry?
“Have the passion. Of course, pursuing any entrepreneurial endeavor is far more complex than that, there are multiple factors that one would need to be acquainted with. Capital, market research, writing business plans, marketing, choosing a business structure, business registration, business accounts etc.
However, if you have the passion, everything else will be smooth; smooth enough to keep going, at least. If you have the passion, the better days will always trump the challenges.”
How important is networking as a growth component of any startup?
“It is of utmost importance. It is an insightful experience for any business that allows for personal and business growth. I believe businesses form part of a community with members that constantly learn from each other; it is not just about the competition (which is mostly necessary).
Networking allows businesses to learn from each other, which allows them to improve their services and get new clients. Sometimes it leads to mutually satisfying collaborations, sometimes it provides new opportunities. The importance of networking cannot be understated.”
What role does your startup play in 1) contributing to society and 2) in nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Namibia?
“I believe that I inspire creativity and ingenuity. In Namibia, the field of art is grossly underrated, which discourages many talented Namibian from pursuing careers in the field. Those that do monetize their craft are easily exploited and have their craft’s value undermined. Achieving my own goals is not only a personal accomplishment, but one that can inspire other talented individuals to tap into the lucrative potential of their creativity.
Edéco aims to positively impact Namibians, through one of our long-term goals: as the business grows, we would like to train individuals in handcrafting as well as open a store (Edéco Home Luxury) that would sell Edéco products, while also creating employment opportunities. At present, Edéco products are available at Nictus Giga, Windhoek. In addition, as our products are made using recycled materials, our items ensure that we preserve the Namibian environment.”
What recommendations would you make towards the improvement of the operations of startups?
“Exposure is one of the biggest challenges that the community of start-ups faces, which has an overall effect on their performance. Many fail because of the lack of exposure; therefore, I would recommend that the community takes a more collaborative approach for collective exposure, investing in initiatives such as an online shopping platforms and marketing databases.”
Startups in Namibia, and all over the world, are facing an unprecedented crisis in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic; how has your startup adjusted to the situation and/or assisted in disseminating information, combatting the spread of the virus, etc.?
“These unprecedented times have truly had a negative financial and operational impact on the business. As a result of the restrictions imposed on various non-essential businesses, procuring supplies was the main challenge I experienced but things are gradually returning to normal.”
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Facebook: Edéco | Ellen Emvula