Mutindi Jacobs, Budding With Karibu Flowers
Karibu which means (Welcome) in Swahili, is the brainchild of Lydia Jacobs. This extraordinary wife, mother and lawyer, built Karibu Flowers to be a premier lifestyle brand.
How did you get started?
Karibu Flowers was established in September 2016. The inspiration came when I was studying in New York the previous year. I would visit boutique flower shops weekly and became obsessed with the way flowers made me feel. I started buying myself flowers weekly and started playing around with the idea of starting a flower business.
Although I had no prior training in floristry of botanical sciences I made it my mission to learn everything that I could about flowers. I did online floral design courses, bought books on flowers, asked florists for advice about the industry and basically just immersed myself in the science of flowers. In addition to my passion for flowers, I had been running a wedding planning business since 2011 and decided that the introduction of floral design into my operations would make business sense. I had a gift for making things beautiful, a passion for it and I found a way to turn it into a business. When we launched in 2016, we were the first florist in Namibia to retail distinctive flower cones and flower boxes, a unique design concept that uses luxurious designer hat boxes to host floral arrangements. Our flowers arrive in a keepsake hat box, inspired by the Parisian Haute Couture.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a florist in Namibia, and how have you navigated through them?
Some of the challenges we have faced have been with financing in order to scale the business. Convincing financial institutions that floral design is a bankable business model has been hard, but we are grateful for all the lessons it has taught us. Another one of our challenges is consistent supply of fresh cut flowers. Our local suppliers have great quality flowers, but often battle with shortages owing to the weather. Although buying local is always preferred we have had to make use of South Africa and Kenya to meet our demands.
How do you market your business? How has (if it has) social media marketing impacted towards that?
Social media is the future of all marketing and has helped us tremendously. We conduct all our campaigns on social media and the majority of our clients find us through our various social media platforms. Being an online shop also ties in well with this making us accessible at all times to people all over the world.
How are you different from your competitors?
We are different from our competitors in that our arrangements are not just put together, our arrangements are styled. Our styling process is ritualistic, the flowers are exposed to soothing classical music, and each bouquet is designed with love and care and tells its own story of passion, remembrance and celebration.
In addition to being the first Namibian florist to retail flower boxes, Karibu Flowers is proud to be pioneering the movement towards sustainable and affordable flowers in the Namibian market. Through our infinity collection which consists of real life preserved roses which last for over a year, we are giving people all over the country unlimited access to real flowers.
To what do you attribute your success?
To me success is an ongoing process and not necessarily a destination. We are successful daily when we have met and exceeded our client’s expectations. We are successful when we have facilitated the experience of pure joy and excitement, the feeling of love and appreciation in whomever receives our floral arrangements.
What gives you the most satisfaction as an entrepreneur?
Being able to control my destiny and the direction of my dreams gives me great satisfaction. The realisation that life is not happening to me, but happening through me. Entrepreneurship makes me feel empowered. I feel blessed to be using my gifts to bless the world whilst building a business that will hopefully outlive me.
Where do you see your company in 5-10 years time?
The intention is to build a business that I can hand over to my children and my children’s children. I would like to see Karibu Flowers move into the manufacturing of preserved flowers, which would be a first for Namibia and a realisation of a Vision 2030 aspiration.
Any advice on those wanting to go into the florist business?
My advice is for those wanting to go into any kind of business and not just floral business.
For the longest time, people have been saying follow your passions, do businesses that you are passionate about. My advice is this – while there is nothing wrong with following your passions, focus rather on your gifts. Your gift is that thing which you do the absolute best, with the least amount of effort. The Bible says in Psalms 18:16, “Your gift will make room for you, and bring you before great men.” I believe each and every one of us was created with a gift, a gift which must be used to serve humanity. When we use our gifts to start a business, we are manifesting greatness, we are self-actualising and serving the world. The world needs more people who are operating in their gift, so use your gifts.