Cris Njoki is the founder of Ikojn Africa, a Kenyan fashion brand that specializes in designing quality, colorful, and comfortable outfits. The journey to building Ikojn Africa has not been an easy one for the entrepreneur. From losing millions to barely making profits, this is her story as told by WoK.
As a young girl, Njoki had a passion for fashion, and would often redesign her mother’s clothes to give them a modern touch. This love for fashion led her to pursue a degree in Fashion/Apparel Design at Mcensal School of Fashion.
While in school, Njoki began dabbling in the thrift business, buying used clothes at a low price and reselling them at a higher price on Facebook. She soon realized the potential profits in the thrift business and began to fully immerse herself in it. She would often make large amounts of money at car boot sales on weekends.
With the profits she made from the thrift business, Njoki decided to start her own clothing brand, Ikojn. However, she faced challenges in finding an appropriate production location in Kenya, and decided to go to China. Despite conducting research and understanding the cost implications, Njoki found it difficult to locate a manufacturer who would produce a smaller quantity of clothes. She finally found a manufacturer who agreed to produce a smaller quantity, but it was still more than she wanted. Njoki made a down payment, but upon receiving the goods, she was disappointed to find that they were not of the right quality. She had lost over a million in the failed venture.
Discouraged, Njoki considered giving up, but decided to press on. She moved production to Kenya and began operations in 2015. She sent out a few samples to people in the fashion world and was lucky to get one response. Orders slowly started trickling in, and the brand Ikojn, which is Njoki spelled backwards, was born.
For a number of years, the company was not making profits. Njoki was only making enough to pay employees and keep the business afloat. However, the Covid-19 pandemic led to the brand gaining more visibility, and Njoki was able to open her first physical store at Westgate in 2020. With its success, she has managed to open two more branches, one at Greenhouse Mall and the other at Imara.