Welcome to our new blog series on Encircled, "Women Entrepreneurs on the Go". Over the next few months, we will feature successful female entrepreneurs who LOVE to travel. They'll be sharing their story, how they started their businesses, and what motivates them the most, and how they overcome the challenges that come with being an Entrepreneur. As well, you'll get a sneak peek into their favourite travel destinations and their carry-on bag!
This week I'd like to introduce Veronica + Freeda, the founders of Kuwala, a brand that promotes and celebrates African fashion. Kuwala is an online boutique that curates stylish and unique pieces from socially responsible African fashion brands.
Kuwala is a fairly new business, having been open for just under 2 years, but they are going strong! Not only are Kuwala's items uniquely exclusive and handmade, but they're made by socially responsible brands in Africa which is an added bonus for ethical shoppers.
Living outside the African continent can make it difficult to source unique fashion made from African prints and fabrics. This is the drive behind Veronica and Freeda's business - making beautiful African-inspired styles available in Canada while at the same time promoting a sustainable fashion industry.
Long Distance Business Partners but making it work
Though Kuwala is based in Toronto, Veronica and Freeda live in different cities (Veronica in Toronto, Freeda in Calgary) which can create some challenges for running a business together. Luckily, technology has helped them overcome this. They've defined each of their business roles, commit to weekly Skype meetings, and are very supportive to each other. One particular way they stay in touch and keep things positive despite the distance, is to text each other after receiving positive feedback and support from a happy customer - Freeda and Veronica love to celebrate these successes together!
Veronica and Freeda believe that part of what makes their business successful, is the customers that understand, believe in and support their mission. When they hear customers explain Kuwala's mission to their friends, it shows that they truly understand what they are trying to achieve with their business. And of course, being able to fulfill their customers needs is top priority.
Both ladies have had opportunities to travel and explore. Veronica's favourite trip so far has been to Brazil where she spent a month travelling alone couchsurfing and staying in hostels while she explored the city with other travellers and locals. Since she was travelling solo, it was easy to determine her own route and journey from place to place at her own pace.
Freeda's most memorable trip so far has been her very first trip to New York city. She visited Times Square, Grand Central Station, Central Park, and saw the thousands of NYC’s iconic yellow cabbies. It was much like the movies! Both ladies had also been able to visit family and friends in Africa and have met many talented and ambitious people along their travels.
Veronica's Top 8 Carry On Essentials
2) A notebook – To write down notes and my thoughts
3) Toothbrush/toothpaste – Clean teeth are important
4) MacBook & protective sleeve
5) Warm socks – My feet always get cold in planes Sunglasses – I’m assuming we’re going somewhere hot & sunny
6) Bilingual dictionary - I want to say "I'm hungry" in every language :)
7) Cellphone & charger – not to make calls during the flight but to take photos
8) Headphones – To watch the in-flight movies or listen to podcasts
Freeda's Top 8 Carry On Essentials
1) Glasses/prescription sunglasses – without them I’m blind
2) Credit card – purchasing power no matter where I am
3) Camera - to capture memories
4) Comfortable shoes and socks – comfort and warmth are key
5) Headphones – To listen to music or watch the in-flight movies
6) Facecloth – quick and easy way to freshen up
7) Floss – I always get food stuck in my teeth
8) Small pillow – so I can take a snooze comfortably in flight or in transit at the airport
Special thanks to Veronica + Freeda for taking the time to be interviewed for "Women Entrepreneurs on the Go". If you know an Entrepreneur, or are an Entrepreneur who loves to travel that we should feature, please click here to contact us.