Last updated on February 25th, 2023 at 10:49 am
In this article, I will show you how to start and market boutique business in Kenya.
I will walk you through two strategies you can use now to make more sales; one free, and the other one you will need to spend as little as 550 per week.
But first, let me show you how start a boutique business in Kenya.
Table of Contents
How to Start a Boutique Business in Kenya
Do you want to start a boutique business in Kenya?
A boutique is a small retail shop selling clothes/ fabric/accessories, and other goods to a specific market segment.
It is easy to start, easily manageable by even one person, requires a comparatively small amount of capital. That can explain why almost everyone is moving in with this business idea in Kenya.
Here are the exact steps you can take now.
1). Write a business plan
A business plan will guide you to the goals you want to achieve.
This is the roadmap to where you want to go.
I know you think writing a boutique business plan in Kenya is hard.
There are six pages on the business plan;
- Production and Delivery
I have written an article covering each of these steps in a business plan.
2. Find a location for your store
This is the next step you need to start a boutique business in Kenya.
And trust me, location can make or break your business.
Pick a place with a lot of foot traffic. Your boutique relies mostly on walk-ins.
Also, consider a place you can access means of transport fast in case you will venture into online marketing (for deliveries).
If you are in Nairobi, here are the best places to open a boutique business in Kenya;
- Moi Avenue
- Village Market
- Tom Mboya Street
3. Register your company with the Kenyan government and obtain licenses
You need to obtain all the licenses needed to operate your business.
Here are some of the licenses you will need;
- City Council Business Permit – costs about KES 8K
- Fire Safety Certificate
To register your boutique business in Kenya, follow these steps;
Do a business name search on the eCitizen portal.
- Go to the eCitizen portal and click on the “Office of The Attorney General and Department of Justice”
- Tap on “Make Application” and then on the “Name Search- Company/ Business.” Go through the instructions provided before applying.
- Click on the “Apply Now” button and then pick the business entity (structure)
- Provide your proposed business name (the name you want to search) and then briefly describe your business.
- Submit your application and pay KES 150 to complete the business name search process.
The search should take at least one working day.
Once you have the name, go ahead with the registration.
To start the registration;
- Log into your eCitizen portal account
- Submit your business name (the one you searched above)
- Make payments for the application through MPESA
- Wait 1-2 working days to know whether your business name registration succeeded.
4. Decide on what type of products you’ll be selling
What will you be selling in your boutique business in Kenya?
Here are some of the ideas;
- Trousers – jeans, chinos, sweatpants
- Leggings and athleisure
- Long sleeve shirts
- Shoes – snickers
- Jewelry – most of all necklaces, bracelets, earrings. Also local and handmade jewelry.
To make it profitable, make sure to offer high-quality products.
5. Create an inventory list of items to purchase from wholesalers or manufacturers
Once you have decided on the products to sell in your boutique business in Kenya, go ahead and contact the wholesalers.
6. Market yourself
Use the tips we have talked about in this article to market your boutique business in Kenya.
And that is how to start a boutique business in Kenya.
And as you can guess, the more people starting this business, the higher the competition.
Well, while I am not saying the competition is bad, it depends on how you have structured your business to win.
See, when there are more options in the market (high supply), the customer has more options.
With more options, comes the need for the supplier to downgrade and offer products at lower prices.
Here is the thing;
Reducing prices is not a strategy.
Because there is no end game to it.
It is an endless journey down the rabbit hole. It never ends.
So what are your options?
What to do instead
You can easily win if you know what you are doing.
Instead of running around with everyone reducing prices, move away from their circle.
This doesn’t mean you relocate your business.
What I mean by this is you look for new markets somewhere else.
Thing is, you can’t be selling the same thing at KES 2K while the stall next door is selling the same at 1K.
Trust me, the customer won’t buy into your ‘its quality’ sayings.
Instead of competing on price, here is what to do;
Start marketing online
Marketing boutique business in Kenya is one of the easiest things you can do.
One, this business is visual.
Let me explain.
You are either selling shoes or clothes.
And these are things you can touch and see, which means it is easy to push them online, especially if you go for social media.
So, to do this;
Facebook and Instagram are the two social media platforms that favor image-based content. This means that your boutique business should do well in these accounts.
I have two strategies for you;
Strategy 1: Marketing for free on Facebook and Instagram
I know you already understand how these two platforms work.
So instead of boring you with technical stuff, I will just mention what you need to know.
First, these two platforms are owned by the same company.
This means that their function and decision-making process is almost the same.
Even with that, each platform has a different framework on how they push content within the site.
The main ones are;
- Organic reach – this is where you share a photo on your Facebook page and it reaches a certain percentage of people who have liked your page. I bet you’ve noticed, you have at least 1K likes, but whenever you post, only 30 people see it. Why? Stick around to know exactly why and how to remedy the situation.
- Paid reach – here, you pay the platform to push your content to even more people. More on this later.
Now, since we are seeking to market your boutique business in Kenya for free online, your best bet is the first option; organic reach.
To get started, I am assuming you already have an active Facebook and Instagram account.
If you don’t, you can finish reading this guide and then go create later.
Now that you have the accounts, go ahead and fill in all the necessary information. You know, things like contact information, about your business, and any other necessary information.
No one trusts a business that has no information on its accounts.
Strategies to copy now
First, you need an audience.
For your Facebook page, go ahead and invite all of your friends to like the page. And for your IG account, use the #Follow4Follow hashtag.
Ain’t gonna lie to you, you will attract a ton of bots and fake accounts. But at least you will have the numbers to encourage you to keep going.
After that, focus on attracting real follows from your target market (the article on how to do is coming up, so keep checking this site for the same).
Another way to build an audience on Facebook is to join all the groups where your target customer is.
If you are selling ladies’ clothes, join all groups where ladies hang out.
While I have nothing against marketplaces, there is so much noise and everyone shouting ‘buy mine, cheap and best’ you have a real shot at selling on non-selling groups.
- Be sure to follow group rules.
- No spamming and posting adverts unless it is adverts day (if they have such).
- A good way to win here is to contribute within the group. Keep commenting and starting conversations and soon, the opportunity to sell will present itself.
With the audience taken care of, your next move is to sell.
Why being boring is costing you customers
First, take quality pictures of your products.
It works best if you demonstrate how your products work.
If you are selling shoes, wear them and take pictures of your legs. I know how that sounds, but trust me.
It is a psychological thing going on here.
The customer will start visualizing herself wearing the same. And when that happens, they are 70% sold.
Here is a goldmine;
Shot videos of you using the product and post online. It can be on your accounts or groups.
People are bored seeing images all day long.
You are doing them a favor by sharing videos, and add some background music to them…
This gives me an idea;
How about you shot a video wearing that blazer and dancing to the latest song?
Why all these?
Boring doesn’t sell in today’s online market!
How to beat the Facebook algorithm
This brings to my next point;
Earlier on I promised to give you a secret to beat the Facebook algorithm that restricts the reach of your posts.
So you have over 1K likes on your page, but whenever you post, crickets!
That’s what this account has exactly over 1K likes. But whenever I post anything, not more than 100 people see it.
Here is why;
Facebook has rigged its systems to only reward pages that keep people on its platform.
This means that if you are posting stuff that takes people away from Facebook, chances are, Facebook will bury your posts.
And funny enough, they then ask you to throw in some budget to reach the rest.
So what wins?
Post engaging content.
- Ask questions
- Post memes that related to your business
- Reply to every comment and aim to start a conversation
The more likes, comments, and shares you get, the higher the post will go.
There is more on this, which is why I am writing a guide on how to gain higher post reach on Facebook without spending money.
Time for our next strategy on how to market boutique business in Kenya.
Strategy 2: Using Facebook ads in Kenya
If you don’t know what Facebook ads in Kenya are, read this guide.
I will go straight to the point here.
First, you need to know your customer and your product.
Ask yourself, who could be interested in buying my product?
- Know the age
- Interests and likes
If you are selling ladies’ handbags, you should know the age bracket of those who’d buy your item.
Where are they located?
Well, you can be offering deliveries, but with ads, you need to make a decision.
Offering deliveries is a blessing and a curse to a boutique business.
A blessing because you get to sell to a wide marketplace. And a curse because they have to pay the delivery fees.
Its been found that a huge percentage of customers abandon a sale because of the shipping fees.
An option is to offer free shipping.
Only do that if you know how to remain profitable.
Enough of that.
To start advertising on Facebook in Kenya, you need at least KES 550.
Steps to advertise on Facebook in Kenya
You can boost the post directly on your Facebook app.
Watch the video below to learn exactly how to boost a Facebook post in Kenya.
Alternatively, visit https://web.facebook.com/adsmanager/
This is what you will see;
It may be slightly different if you are doing this for the first time.
Click on create.
And then pick an objective;
Here are my suggestions;
- If you have an online store where you want people to place orders, go with Traffic objective
- But if you want people to comment on your posts, the engagement objective will do.
- Messages objective works best if you want people to send a message to your Messenger or WhatsApp number
You can use any of these.
But here is a catch.
Each of these will cost you differently.
Among the three, the engagement objective will cost less, followed by Traffic, and lastly Messages.
But here is the secret.
The more results you get, the less it costs.
Let me explain;
When you first set up your ad, you may see that the cost per message is KES 30. But as you receive more messages, the costs drop.
The same applies to the others.
I have written a detailed guide on how to advertise on Facebook in Kenya, read it here.
Here are my pointers;
- Don’t pick conversion objectives unless you know what you are doing
- Start a conversation with every comment (this boosts your engagement, lowering your costs)
- Pick the location around your business if you wish to avoid shipping fees.
- The age should reflect the bracket of those who use your products. You can’t be advertising to 18-year-olds when you are selling a product for adults, you will be wasting your money
- Get the detailed targeting right
This can make or break your ad.
The secret is to use the ‘AND ALSO’ rule.
By doing so, you are eliminating random people.
If you are selling handbags, you can choose those interested in handbags and still win.
But to nail it, add things like ‘online shopping’ as a second filter.
This means that your ad will be seen by those who like handbags, and also likes online shopping.
And that is how to market boutique business in Kenya.
Boutique Business in Kenya FAQs
Where to buy clothes to start a boutique in kenya
If you want to start a boutique in Kenya, you have various options for buying clothes. You can purchase a bulk of clothes from wholesalers who specialize in supplying clothes to boutiques in Eastleigh, Gikomba Market, and Kongowea market in Mombasa. You can also search online for fashion retailers based in Kenya or who deliver to Kenya. Additionally, you can explore local markets for unique pieces unavailable elsewhere. Finally, you can also look for second-hand clothing stores where you can find quality pieces at a discounted price.
How much do i need to start a boutique in Kenya?
The exact amount you will need to start a boutique in Kenya will depend on the type of boutique you want to open and the location you choose. Generally speaking, you should plan to have at least KES 10,000 to KES 150,000 in start-up capital to cover expenses such as rent, inventory, staffing, and marketing. Additionally, you will need to factor in the cost of any licenses and permits required to open a business in Kenya.
Is a boutique a profitable business?
Yes, a boutique can be a profitable business. Boutiques offer a variety of unique items that customers may be unable to find in larger stores. With proper marketing and pricing, a boutique can attract customers and generate steady profits. Additionally, since boutiques tend to be smaller and require less overhead costs, they can be more cost-effective to maintain than larger stores.