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How I started my business with $5

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

I’ve always wanted to do different things and just be in different places. I’ve always been ambitious. I have always been active and curious-I am always down for an adventure. I think this is what made me an entrepreneur in the first place-taking risks and experiencing what life has to offer.

Growing up my parents weren’t very open to the idea of us being free spirited and DoInG wHaT wE wAnTeD. My parents shared an interest but that was that, they had a system we all had to follow. We had to go to school, educate ourselves, take one day at a time and the rest was/is background noise.

Now I am not saying my parents are enemies of progress, my parents are WHY I’m here today. They challenged me and my business to grow. My dad didn’t really want me to open a business and handle school at the same time but I really wanted to know what it was like to open a business and make my own money.

Before opening a business, I used to sell stuff my dad would get us from Oman/Dubai and I would print envelope templates, cut and assemble them and use them for packaging. I think at some point I have gone through every decent hustle you could think of.

My parents were aware of my little transactions, going To school with a bag full of DIY craft everyday to sell them to my classmates was my thing. I was ready for the big step, I was ready to be boss and my father turned me down.

He told me no Way on earth would I be able to manage studying gemology and also deal with customers everyday. I went behind his back and started my own business. I made my big announcement on Instagram and I was just hoping for the best. I spent about $1,000 of my savings on packaging and products to find out that 1. The sample was absolutely horrible which meant my batch was completely useless and 2. The manufacturer never got back to me and didn’t want to return my money. I couldn’t tell my father or my mother and I only had $5. My father wasn’t going to lend me any money because he knew he'd be encouraging me to do something he wasn’t delighted about AND he had also given me my savings money from when I was a child so how do I start explaining to this man I blew my savings and I’m in need of money.

It was time to go back to the drawing board.

I spent a few weeks Googling about big brands and how they started and where people get their stuff from. They got them from China. Luckily I had a friend in China, my ex best friend in fact and I would beg her to search for manufacturers for me and maybe we could start a thing since she had her own business in Tanzania and all of that. I got Empty promises and crickets. So I let that one go and went back to Google. I talked to several factories and I finally found a great supplier in China and I explained to her that I really did not have any money but I have a Platform and I have $5 I could spare. I asked her if she could send me at least one pair of eyelashes and I would in turn be her customer. She told me that she can give me product pictures to use on my Instagram and that I should also pay $5 for the pictures because those were company’s property and I hadn’t bought anything yet so it doesn’t make me their customer.

I took the risk. I waited for six months till I got a customer. ONE customer and I had to ship her eyelashes with DHL because I was already behind on shipping. I had to lie to my father that I had to pay for extra reading material because I’m new to gemology and I need all the info I could get. I delivered my first paid or eyelashes, after six months of advertising and talking about them.

I did that, I came out with a brand, at Around 16-17 years old. Something people in Tanzania weren‘t shopping For as much back then and something people weren’t used to seeing.

My business kicked off and I sold anything and everything and my father eventually found out and was actually surprised to see me selling about 100 units weekly. I made mad money back then from selling stuff like bikinis and waist trainers all branded with my logo. Something people couldn't even think it was possible for a girl my age.

It was NOT easy. I got bullied and ridiculed. They called me names and tried to tarnish my reputation. I have had friends not support me and same friends plot against my shipment in China. I’ve lost millions because people purposely lost my cargo over not being friends anymore.

There‘s so much I had to endure but it was all from the $5 I invested in the pictures. Some of you want to start a business but think “why should I invest in something? Why should I pay $10 for a book when I can ask so and so.” Or “why must I take time to learn about this business I’m opening.” “Why should I plan, it’s easy. I see so and so doing it.”

I chose to invest the last $$$$ I had to get PICTURES, something I couldn’t even resell so that I could brand myself.

It‘s not about what you have or what you don’t have, it’s about what you are willing to do with the little that you have. Are you willing to put in blood, sweat and tears?

There‘s a lot I’ve been through, this is a short summary I have written to tell you that it was never easy for me. I had low moments, I had high expectations that were never met, I was depressed, I was running out of my mind waiting for that ONE miracle but I never gave up.

You should NOT give up!

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