How Suesanne invested in online fashion hub

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Suesanne Tusiime is very hard to get for an interview. In fact she needs notification days in advance, if you want to meet her, or you risk going to her office and finding her gone for the whole day. At 25, she has so much to do, dreams to chase, people to meet and designer wear to deliver to her fashion-loving clients. She is the brains behind Paple Rayn. The platform on social media sites and the website http://www.paplerayn.com/ug was started with the goal of delivering affordable, high-quality fashionable apparel.

Paple Rayn
Paple Rayn

Tusiime, a Social Work and Social Administration graduate from Uganda Christian University Mukono, has always had a business-like mind. While at university, she used to deliver sandwiches and burgers to the cafeteria and in her senior six vacations, she delivered breakfast snacks to office workers. After university, she got a job that paid Shs 300,000, but that didn’t last long, because after three months, she had managed to save Shs 700,000 and ship in her first consignment of apparels from UK and USA. She sold this out, mostly to friends, and went on to increase the number of items with every subsequent shipment. It was not all rosy though.

“It was very hard in the beginning. When a business is at a young stage, there are some losses that teach you a lot. For my case learning about the quality of imported goods was a hard job,” she says. With no funds to enable her travel abroad and pick the items herself made her suffer some disappointments until when she finally established contacts abroad that understood the high quality she demanded. The other challenge was juggling the job demands and her budding business.

“I spent long hours for lunch break, trying to make my business work. And after trying to make ends meet and neglecting a lot of my employer’s requirements, I finally chose to go with self-employment,” says Tusiime.

Tumusiime poses for fashion256.com
Tumusiime poses for fashion256.com

She was 22 years then and business was being run on the online and mobile phone platforms and then goods were being delivered from her home. The transition to being fully self-employed also came with some hiccups. It felt as if the clients had stopped making orders the moment she quit her job. She was surviving on very little per day in order not to make in-roads into her profits and affect her next purchase.

The business later picked some momentum and she now has employees to handle different aspects of the business and she also acquired a motorcycle to handle the deliveries.

Recently, the business moved into its first offices at the Quality Supermarket building in Ntinda. It isn’t a boutique but space from which the internet-based platform is run. The company shares space and rent with its website developers such that it can have easy access to them whenever a problem arises and has to be resolved immediately.

Her biggest challenges right now are the rising prices due to the US dollar rate and the way they live on the edge each day, due to the daily boda boda rides while making deliveries. But with the new bike in place, the risk is being managed.

DSC_0007Tusiime’s future plans include making a definite mark on the fashion industry, both in Uganda and internationally.

“I would like to begin shipping outside East Africa. We have so many requests to ship all over the world, but certain constraints make it expensive to ship from Uganda to the European market, for example,” she says. She also wants to have a showroom to boost the confidence of clients still skeptical of online business.

She believes women are the best business people because of the characteristics already within them, such as saving, living within ones means and creativity.

“They are natural planners and can juggle many tasks, and do them exceptionally well. We need more women in business.” However, she also believes that they have to work twice as hard to make a mark and be taken seriously.

She loves music and gets a lot of inspiration from it. She is also a self-confessed movie addict.

Family is everything to her.

“I have the most amazing, supportive, family in the world. They are my best friends and confidants.”

She was born to Julius and Joy Byenkya. Her father is a social sector and public policy management specialist, who has over the past 20 years managed a wide range of social sector and public sector reform projects and programmes. He has worked with the government of Uganda, the UN, Deloitte and Touche, among others. He is presently engaged in commercial farming. Her mother is a senior tutor in early childhood development and a curriculum developer for early learners (nursery to primary three). She is also a trainer of trainers in primary education and teacher education at Nakaseke PTC.

“I honestly wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them’” she concludes.

Meet Samson Baranga aka BigSam. He is a passionate photographer, writer, blogger, biker and his passion for fashion knows no boundaries. He is also a fashion columnist in The Observer newspaper.