By Morakinyo David

Pokello Nare is the CEO of Addicted to Shoes and she runs a luxury shoes store in Harare, Zimbabwe. At the moment, she is in the running to win the grand sum of $300,000 in the ongoing Big Brother Africa The Chase reality TV show. On Sunday 30 June, while preparing for the live eviction show, she spent time with two other housemates, telling them how she has managed to run her small business successfully, including the ups and downs she has been through.

1. NATURAL ADDICTION: I opened my store in Harare (Zimbabwe) in Dec 2011, so by December 2013 it will have been open for two years. It’s called Addicted to Shoes. It was tough finding a shop in a good location and there were many people hunting for every available shop in the city; but in the end, I found one good enough.
2. STAYING CURRENT: I follow international trends and I try to be current with what they’re doing. When I notice that a certain style or a particular fad is not in vogue abroad, I don’t bother to import or stock them.
3. SPYING THE COMPETITION: I visit many stores who stock and sell shoes as I do, just to see what designs are on offer. I look out for designers that have been bootlegged and that gives me an idea of what to bring in and what not do bring in. The truth is many customers can’t tell the difference between an original and a fake. So long as they look alike, they are one and the same.
4. JUGGLING FINANCES: When I travel to shop for shoes for my store, I pay for my flights and accommodation from my personal account; these are monies I have saved from some other jobs I have done, like voiceovers or radio commercials. I use monies from the business account to pay for the goods.
5. TARGETING PURCHASES: I target sales season a lot, because that is when the wholesalers have promos going on, like Buy One Get One Free, etc. For a buying and selling business that is a good bargain.
6. SOCIAL MEDIA EDGE: I opened a Facebook page and post pictures of what I wear on a daily basis on it. The brand is centred on my personality. We have to constantly do this to keep the page views figures up. We get about 13,000 views a day. I later had to open a website–but the Facebook page is still the main attraction for online traffic.
7. TEAM WORK: I have a good team working with me. They run the Facebook page on a regular basis; I only update it every once in a while.
8. MEDIA BUY-IN: The media has taken to the brand and they help push the brand a lot.
9. I alone do the buying (of the shoes we stock), because I don’t trust anyone else’s taste.
10. BUY BACK GUARANTY: My customers get a guaranty: if they buy shoes from our store and find torn, they can bring it back and get a new pair as replacement. That’s how much I trust the quality of the brands we sell.