In the spotlight this week is small business Mukala Africa, run by a lovely lady called Chloe. Not only does Mukala sell the most beautiful African inspired home decor but their mission to help children in their local Cameroonian community through the sales of their goods I think is truly inspiring!
Mukala sells the most beautiful handcrafted Juju hats, which I think is what they are best known for, but you’ll also find tribal shields and beaded bracelets amongst other handmade items sitting perfectly along side. Chloe very kindly agreed to answer a few questions and tell us a little more about what they do and why.
Hi, would you like to take a minute to introduce yourself?
Hey ! My name is Chloe, I am a Scottish lass living in Cameroon with my Husband. He’s actually French-Cameroonian hence the big move to Africa. I’ve been living here for almost 5 years now and what an experience it has been ! I miss home a lot, but I get to travel twice a year to get my fix and plan to go back one day soon.
Can you tell us a little about your business?
Sure ! So, Mukala is an online store specialising in bespoke African Art and Home Decor. We work with our very own team of Artisans who create and build on traditional tribal crafts for our lovely clients. We specialise in the production of modern day Juju Hats amongst other cultural marvels which originate from the West of Cameroon. We pride ourselves on fair trade partnerships with local families, our handmade, high quality finish and in giving back to underprivileged children.
How long has your business been running and how did it get started?
Well, Mukala is actually relatively new. We came up with the idea in 2018 and began establishing soon after as I developed a passion for all things Cameroonian craftmanship. I couldn’t shift the idea that the UK were missing out on something really special and so Mukala would be my means of spreading a little African abundance. You see, what’s fascinating about the products we sell is that they are believed to possess prosperous powers ! My husband already has his own business and has always inspired me so with his help, I decided to go for it.
How does Mukala help the children in your local community?
Well, our chosen charity relies solely on external donations. Some of these aren’t regular, making it hard to find the money for the kid’s school fees and rent. The centre aims to feed the boys after school as it’s often the only hot meal they’ll have in a day. Our contribution then goes to food and other basics like soap and toothpaste and oil so that they can cook doughnuts and raise money themselves by selling them locally. We also provide them with school materials.
Mukala aside, it’s hard not to feel attached to such a great group of boys so in our own time, we also volunteer to help them with IT and English skills.
How do you run your business?
Well, by day I actually teach ESL at a private French School. I love it and it takes a lot of my time but I’m also lucky to have Teacher holidays when I can focus entirely on Mukala. As you can imagine, business life is somewhat busy but I’m loving the challenge so far and in time, hope to run Mukala full-time.
What would a typical day look like for you?
A typical Mukala day always starts with my morning Instagram and Facebook post. It’s my favourite part of the day as I get to engage with our fabulous followers. I also meet with our Artisans to get updates on current orders as well as ideas for potential new products and styles. Currently, we get a lot of Juju orders, so I spend a lot of time preparing them for shipping making sure they’re all quality checked. Every so often, I also get to direct gorgeous models to pose for website images and visit the West of Cameroon.
What would you say have been the high’s and lows of running your own business?
Well, sometimes I struggle to get the healthy work life balance right. It’s often all-consuming but I’ve learned when to stop and make time for myself and my loved ones. But overall, the experience so far has been so enlightening, positive and rewarding. More and more, I really feel like this is my calling. I love organising my time, supporting and connecting with locals, having opportunities to further learn and grow personally and professionally. I feel real pride and satisfaction about the work we are doing so far and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What would you say to someone wanting to start their own small business, what lessons have you learnt along they way that might help them?
I would say if you have a passion for something, it’s your calling to share it with the world. Take the risk, make the jump and accept the challenge. The hard work will pay off but try to be patient and know that success comes organically.
What is your goal and what inspires you to achieve it?
My ultimate goal is to have a Mukala store in Glasgow and in London. We want to be the ‘go to’ reputable brand for African homeware and create an African frenzy in my mother land. With this, the business will expand and we’ll be able to further help our chosen charity with monetary donations and opportunities for the children who attend. Having a happy abundant life and making a difference to those children is all the inspiration anyone needs.
A big thank you to Chloe for telling us all about her small business and the work she does alongside this, pretty inspiring I hope you’ll agree! And thank you for taking the time to read!
(I was very kindly gifted a juju hat from Mukala Africa, I would only work with and feature products that I truly love)