CYEL 2022 Issue: One on One Interview with Haika Lyimo – CEO, Hika’s Shoes, Dar es Salaam.
In this special feature, we highlight a seasoned Tanzanian entrepreneur and CEO of Hika’s Shoes.
Our crew member (left) poses with Haika (right) during the interview at Hika’s Shoes premises in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo credit: Hika’s Shoes
CYEL: Thank you for having us at your premises, and for accepting to be interviewed for this feature
Haika: You’re welcome, thank you for coming.
CYEL: Okay, so shall we get started?…please tell us about yourself – who’s Haika, where did you grow up, where did you go to school, and what was your dream growing up?
Haika: I have been to so many schools (chuckles). So I am the first born in a family of four (4). I schooled in Kenya (Laiser Hill Academy in Ngong), then came back home (Tanzania) to do my O level and A level, after which I proceeded to University in India, where I pursued a Bachelors in Business Management, and then attained a Masters in finance and accounting. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, and always aspired to be a business lady – business studies back in school (Kenya) also spurred my interest in entrepreneurship.
CYEL: Wow! What a CV you got there! A glance at you and one could tell you have an amazing fashion sense; a fashionista at that – do you consider yourself a model, and or have you ever considered modelling?
Haika: (Chuckles) Not really. I am shy and don’t think I would make one…I can’t face the cameras.
CYEL: But we have seen you model and market your wear perfectly on your socials. You would make a great commercial model especially for products and clothing design.
Haika: (Smiles) Oh yes, I do that a lot for my new arrivals. If that’s the case, then I wouldn’t mind, but there would be so many cameras around (chuckles).
CYEL: Could you take us through Hika’s shoes journey? When was it established? How did you get started? What was the drive? Who accorded you the support?
Haika: So after my university studies in India, I returned home (Tanzania), and immediately got a job offer as a marketer. Despite being in employment, I felt I wanted to do more, so I teamed up with a friend and opened a salon business. I would say I was a dormant partner (investor). While I was working fulltime, she was at the salon plaiting all day. I felt like this wasn’t fair to her, so I asked to opt out of the salon business. My next would lead me into shoes – I have love for shoes stores (smiles). I would source for thrift shoes at Karume market. Since I was working 8-5, I would wake up at four in the morning, head there (Karume market), search for the best shoes, head back home, and prepare myself to go to work at eight o’clock in the morning. I started Hika’s’s shoes with 8 pairs of shoes (ladies), with a capital of 120,000 Tshs (my own savings), and I don’t mean to say this so it can be likened to some of those motivational stories – where someone claims to have started a biz with 1 shoe!
Sidenote: (Haika has a charming sense of humour, the interviewer couldn’t help but chuckle)
CYEL: Exit salon, enter shoes. Which year is this we are talking about?
Haika: 2018 August to be precise. I sold the first batch of shoes except one pair, which I still display as memorabilia (walks to show the interviewer the shoe on display). This pair (waves it at the interviewer), is such a relic to me. So all this while, I was selling the shoes from home. I would take pictures of arrivals, post on my Instagram, and I would get orders. The challenge however was, most clients wanted to try out the shoes, meaning they would have had to come home. So in 2019, I opened up a shop to make it easier for anyone to walk in. It is in this year that I started doing thrift shoes for both genders, as well as venturing into new shoes.
CYEL: You use social media – Instagram, Twitter for brand marketing. Has this worked magic for you? What percentage would you say this has amounted to sales
Haika: Eighty (80) percent I would say! Most sales I have made have been through the posts I publish online. And the rest have been through word of mouth and referrals by friends.
CYEL: What is your customer base? (More Women vs Men, More youth vs senior citizens)?
Haika: My clientele cuts across, though I get more support from women shoppers. Ladies shoes move fast, as opposed to men’s – men aren’t spendthrifts when it comes to fashion, plus their wear is so pricey. Though generally, my target market is across all genders and social classes – our pricing is friendly to everyone, from the lower to the highest class. And from time to time, we do get orders from all over East Africa and deliver there.
CYEL: What are some of the challenges you have encountered along the way in this venture? And how have you managed to overcome them?
Hika’s shoes package ready for shipping to a client
Photo credit: Hika’s Shoes
Haika: Entrepreneurship is no walk in the park. The current global economic trends – inflation, and what have you, lack of easy access to SME and user-friendly financing are some of the hurdles we have to grapple with. Credit requirements for SMEs in the country are stringent, meaning you mostly have to rely on your own savings to grow the business.
CYEL: If you weren’t running Hika’s shoes, what would you rather be doing?
Haika: Event planning. I just love the art of managing events – weddings, birthday parties, name them.
CYEL: What advice do you have for youth and young women out there, who would wish to venture in the fashion industry as yourself??
Haika: Dream, dream, dream! Go for it. Try, fail, learn, try again, because nothing worthwhile is easy to come by.
CYEL: What next for Hika’s shoes? Do you ever envision opening chain stores across Tanzania and East Africa? Would you be open to angel investors for a stake in your venture?
Haika: Absolutely! Hika’s shoes is open to investors having a stake in Hika’s shoes. I aspire to grow and open up branches in major towns in Tanzania, and beyond the borders – in East Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda… you know…I also aspire to have Hika’s shoes label company in years to come. So welcome those of you interested in walking the journey with Hika’s’s shoes.
CYEL: Amazing! We have come to the end of our interview but before you go, Your parting shot…what’s that one mantra you live by?
Haika: Just be you…do you. No pretence – focus on what you have to get done!
CYEL: And that’s it! Thank you once again for the opportunity to interview you.
Haika: Asante sana,
Postscript: 1 full page ad with Hika’s products / location / contacts (to be shared by Haika)
Photos of Haika at the shop / promotional videos for YouTube channel (if possible)
Imprint: CYEL 2022 Magazine