The Paul Elle brand is a collection of clothing lines found in Dakar Fashion Shows. The designs are purely African with a western touch. Every piece is 100% African inspired. We had the opportunity to email interview the founder of Paul Elle, Marieme Paulelle, and here it is:
- Tell us about yourself and your business
My name is MariemeSall better known as Marieme Paulelle which is also where my clothing brand derives from.
I was born and raised in Dakar, Senegal where I created and launch “Paul Elle” 2 years ago basically when I was 19 years old.
My interest in entrepreneurship and clothing came from my surroundings.I was practically educated by my grandmother who was a seamstress. She inspired me because she had to fight every day to provide for her family.
Unemployment among the youth is a big issue in Senegal. In fact, research has shown that 8 out of 10 young people are unemployed. To avoid falling into this situation that has become almost inevitable, I decided to start my business.
- How much did you need to start your business and how were you able to raise that capital?
I never had a fixed budget to start with. Indeed, I knew I wanted to create dresses as a start and building an online store. So, to come up with the money, I applied to a large garment sales floor without a sales diploma. Normally, I had to pass the interview and do an internship of at least 2 months but, surprisingly I was hired after three days as a cashier/bookkeeper. I worked two months to save about $500 which covered my inventory and website cost. That’s basically, how much it cost me to start my business.
- What are some (the top 3 or 5) of the challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome those challenges?
The lack of confidence and recognition of our work among the youth is a challenge because people tend to minimize the value of Made in Africa. However, the most challenging hurdle is the fact that Senegalese consumers are not used to purchasing products online. We don’t have the culture of purchasing online products through e-commerce platforms yet.Hence, my team and I continue to persevere and prove that the Made in Africa is a greater quality, and educate consumers to purchase through our ecommerce platform
- Where do you see your business in 5 year from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?
In five years, I see us having at least 2 stores in center of the capital, Dakar and begin our expansion in neighboring countries.
I’m still a student and I plan to finish my studies in 2 years. Additionally, I’ll continue my side job as a commercial marketer in order to save and finance my store expansions.
- What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa
You know, it’s easier to invest in Africa than difficult to undertake in Africa. Let me explain: it’s very challenging to create a brand from Africa because as I mentioned before consumers perceive the MADE in AFRICA products as inferior products compare to the west. It’s a distressing fact that only us the young and aspiring entrepreneurs can change.
Africa has a huge potential, but it’ll take patience, courage, and motivation to succeed. So don’t be afraid to start a business or invest in Africa because Africa is the future.