It felt like a dream when I started off this business just like a hobby in 2007, growing it in bits, making mistakes, and learning from them while at it. Simply because of taking that leap of faith, we are now able to proffer solutions to cleaning needs with five top-quality products. Join me as you read and learn from our journey.
How Twinkleen Survived Fifteen Years
Started with what was available
Twinkleen startup capital was a sum of #3,000 which was pocket money given to me by one of my aunts in 2007. Started mixing chemicals with the family buckets and bowls, in our family house. My first Adhoc staff were my younger sister with one of her friends who came to the house on weekends to fill products in bottles, she gets paid per quantity of products filled.
This was a bit easier as I had a background in accounting and my aunt/mentor who thought me the business also taught me the basics of costing all materials and direct expenses
Identified and focused on a consistent target market
As I couldn’t go around hawking products from house to house, I thought of a market segment that uses household cleaning products on a daily basis and the one that would accept our products. Then I came up with a list and pitched our products to them with free samples. Some of those clients are still customers till date.
Introduced my personality into the business
I am an extrovert, a people’s person, the one that keeps a group bubbling, I infuse this part of me into my business, more like turning customers into the family after a long time. The fact that I made deliveries all by myself made it easy for me to have close-knit relationships with most of my customers. I was relatable and I guess this was one of our unique selling points and sustainability gimmick. Talk about PERSONAL BRANDING.
Asked for help
At every point I hit a roadblock I don’t hesitate to ask family and friends for help, I remembered the first major order I got was from Mr. Biggs at Fajuyi park in Ado-Ekiti, I couldn’t afford to produce what they ordered at once. I hurriedly went to speak to one of my friends who loaned me some money to add to my capital to deliver on the order, she did and I was able to fulfil the order, I paid her back as soon as I got paid from other customers and for a very long time we were the major supplier of liquid soap for Mr. Biggs, Ado-Ekiti.
I can’t even count the number of times my friends came through for me, simply because I asked. I must say I have supportive friends. The ones that would stop by at my vendor’s place in Lagos and delay their travel time to help convey raw materials and packaging materials to the city of Ado-Ekiti, sometimes late in the night. I ask for collaborations from friends who have the network that can help our business grow.
Nothing beats ordering products one minute and getting them delivered to you the next minute, this is one of our brand promises and our customers can attest to this. I always encourage all our staff to help out with delivery which has helped us to fulfill this promise. Sometimes we just can’t meet up but we communicate in rare cases.
Ploughed back profits
I ensured that all the income made from sales of products goes back into restocking of raw materials “I still do this till date” and introducing a new product line as I started with one product line back in the days. I would have turned over my profit three times before taking some to sort out my academic and personal needs.
Got a side hustle
In 2009 an opportunity to work as a data entry assistant for a research consulting firm showed up on one of my trips to deliver products to one of my client’s organizations, as much as I tried to fix in another person for that job because I was preparing for semester examination I got interviewed and I passed then boom I joined the data entry team of the organization but later switched to field data collector after some years.
Up until 2020, any income I made from that job goes into my business. Our success story will not be complete without making reference to that research organization.
Revisiting Difficult Customers/clients
Not all the places we introduced our products to accepted us at first, we had so many Nos.
Supply chain finance
Supply chain finance (or ‘supplier finance’) is a type of cash advance. Similar to invoice finance, it’s based on the credit rating of companies in the supply chain. It’s a way for smaller businesses to benefit from the higher credit scores of their buyers and for buyers to lengthen their payment terms. Let me break this down in layman’s terms. It’s when you buy inputs or materials from your supplier on credit or you pay in advance for raw materials and also sell to your customers on credit and they pay later.
This particular mode of operation is one of the factors that sustain Twinkle. We have a cordial relationship with all our vendors that they trust us and they can sell to us on credit.
It has helped to improve our working capital position, we have benefitted from longer payment terms, and also improved our cash conversion cycle. It has also helped to support our business growth. This didn’t happen overnight, it happened after consistently buying from a particular vendor paying cash, and building the relationship for some years.
Loans from F&F, cooperatives, Banks, and Investor
Having a great support system as a business owner cannot be underestimated, if you don’t have that strong financial capability trusts me you need that support. I joined about two cooperative societies back in Ekiti, those times you cannot easily access credit from your bank without any collateral. Yours truly had none as at that time, all I had was a business name and products to turn to money but I never gave up, I would still walk into my bank and ask for an overdraft but I never got one until in 2019 when one of the staff from Wema bank approached me to open an account with them as they have several products to help SMEs, I still “yimued” because I have heard similar lines from different banks. I opened an account with them and since then I have enjoyed seamless banking and access to credits. Don’t mind all my banter about Wema bank on my WhatsApp status. Lol.
In 2019, a family member asked to invest in the business, it was a great relief for the business at that time as we had increased our customer base and location, this investment helped s with substantial cash flow and the opportunity to stock up and produce in large quantity. I and the investor agreed on an 18% annual ROI which was spread over twelve months. At the end of the month, the investor gets monthly dividends up until April 2022 when the investment was terminated without prior notice by the investor. Unfortunately, we never had a binding contract all we had was a verbal agreement but I remember I stated vividly that the investor should give 6months prior notice to the termination of the investment.
We all know how tough it is to run a manufacturing business in Nigeria during this period of double-digit inflation. Well, your Twinkleen is yet to pay back but plans are in place to pay off the investment before the year runs out. Hard lessons learned… Have all your contract and agreement well spelt out, and get a lawyer. This is business, treat it as a business.
Rebranding and introducing new product lines and services
We started with one product line which was multipurpose liquid soap in an unbranded plastic, we did this for about a year then added loo cleaner and air freshener, this time we had branded the products with the name “Bubbles” this was because the first time I produced the liquid soap after rigorous stirring there was a splash of bubbles in the air so I thought bubbles would be the brand name. Unknowingly there was a bar soap with the trademark bubble, immediately I realized this I started plans to change the brand name from bubbles, then the brand name Twinkleen came up from the rhymes twinkle, twinkle little star with the KLEEN: Twin and Kleen… When you use our products especially the loo cleaner your toilet bowl twinkle like a little star and it becomes clean then you have Twinkleen.
Let’s talk about our cleaning services which were another means to raise capital, we offered this service as it would be easy to get the job done easily with the combination of our products and manpower. As an undergraduate, I will mobilize my friends and we will go to new sites in Ado-Ekiti to introduce our services to the site engineer after several interviews we got several jobs to clean banks, offices, new homes, etc. I and my friends will go and get the cleaning job and we get paid. At this time other products had been added to our product lines. We still offer cleaning services on request but hopefully, we are expanding that part of our business.
This might be a God-given gift but I think we all have this gift only if we put it to work. We are not perfect and there might be some minor errors while trying to multitask but you too can try this out if your business won’t have the capacity to employ professionals to handle some part of your business you will have to learn to handle that part of the business, This is our story at Twinkleen, I remember in 2017 we had already started production in Ibadan, I was on a job in Lokoja, we had no permanent staff and we had run out of I stock in Ado-Ekiti. As soon as I completed my deliverables for the week and boarded the next bus to Ibadan. How I single-handedly fill a drum of 300Litres in bottles, labelled them and packaged them, and sent them to Ado-Ekiti still surprises me till date, it was as if I was on drugs. As soon as I sent them off, I got on the bus back to Lokoja.
We also train our members of staff to multitask and to a large extent, we are getting all our tasks done. Even though it’s not easy but we are always ready to stretch to achieve our goals. I am using this medium to appreciate all our members of staff who have kept the flag flying that the almighty God bless you all.
Tick says the clock, tick-tick, what you have to do, do quick. Time waits for no man. Don’t slack, don’t dull, wake up….. Manage your time, apportion time to specific tasks and get them done. Personally, I still feel I procrastinate and leave some tasks undone but I hope to get and do better going forward.
I sought God, prophesied his words and invested in God’s business.
Immediately after the first printed labels were out then, I took it to God in prayers, and I asked him for supernatural favor and acceptance, even though the business started off selling unbranded products but after some months the business could afford to print labels. I didn’t delay in paying tithes, as soon as I started, I would cost my materials, and expenses, and deduct my tithe from the profit.
For every step, I took forward in the business God has always shown his favor. I remembered when I finally decided to register our products with NAFDAC, I got their list of requirements for registration, and one of the major requirements was a factory of four rooms which should be fenced, I went to God in prayers as the search began, it didn’t take so much search before I got one. Talk about his financial provision on that project, God came through and I said some powerful words in faith.
Those words were
• Our NAFDAC registration will not delay, the two products will be successfully registered in less than a year.
• I will not have to pay for the factory rent for more than two years before we have our factory.
Lo and behold God heard those words and made sure it came to fulfillment, till date how it happened is still a wonder.
Speak positive words into your life and business, there is power in your words. Romans 10:10. Mark 11:23-24.
Therefore, I say unto you, what things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you have received them and you shall have them.