Nancy Akoth Abonyo, a fashion designer based in Bangkok, Thailand is the founder of Nalelek Collection, an online clothing brand.
The 33-year-old who is a teacher by profession, ended up in Thailand after failing to secure a job in Kenya.
Abonyo sells her clothes worldwide but she explained that Kenya and other East African Community countries are her focus market.
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Here is her story as told by WoK.
Abonyo was born and raised in Homa Bay County.
She enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa where she pursued a course in chemical engineering.
However, for a year and a half after completion of her undergraduate studies, Abonyo was yet to secure a job.
Her brother who was working and living in Thailand at the time then invited her while she figures out her next move.
“I was not doing so well due to the frustration of tarmacking. Luckily, my brother was working in Thailand by then, so he suggested that I join him there for a few months just to refresh as I figured out what next,” she said.
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Abonyo then enrolled for an MBA in International Business Management at Stamford International University in Bangkok.
“After my master’s graduation equally did countless job applications to a point where I gave up. I went back to Kenya to try my luck yet again but it was all in vain I equally did countless job applications to a point where I gave up. I went back to Kenya to try my luck yet again but it was all in vain,” she said.
After a short stay in Kenya, she went back to Thailand where she first landed a job as a market research analyst at a start-up.
This was shortly before she landed a teaching job as a mathematics teacher in a government sponsored high school.
A while later, Abonyo realized that she did not want to pursue teaching for the rest of her life after discovering her love for fashion.
“I’ve always wanted to own a business, something that I would run on my terms. I have also always believed that one source of income is not enough, and even in my school days I often thought of something to do on the side
“Before settling on a clothing brand, I had considered several products such as diffusers, scented candles and essential oils, but I wanted a product that I could easily get here (Thailand) and would be appreciated back home,” she said.
It was then when she established The Nalelek Collection, an online shop.
“Nalelek is a Maasai word that means simple. Our collections are simple but elegant, casual and chic. You can wear them to the office on a Friday and later meet the girls for a drink in the evening. It has been two years since I started the business,” Abonyo said.
She works with her sister-in-law who helps her with distribution of outfits in Kenya and surrounding countries.
“Most of my clients are in East Africa. What I do is source the outfits here in Thailand then ship them to Nairobi. My sister-in-law, who has been very supportive, helps in sending some to Uganda and Tanzania by bus,” she added.
Abonyo also explained why she settled for ladies’ clothes.
“As you might be aware, women are more fashion-conscious compared to men. They are more deliberate about what they wear, unlike men who practically wear anything no matter the occasion. But with time, the business will be all-inclusive,” she said.
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