Seeing the truly adorable and uniquely African baby and maternity products created by multi-talented Nigerian serial entrepreneurs, Nkemdilim Begho, Ashim Egunjobi and Ijeome Nwoke, for their new company brand, Always Me by Anne Li, definitely brings out those ‘Aaah’ moments in life. The exquisitely handmade and beautifully designed products are absolute must-haves for any design conscious parent!
LoA chatted to Nkemdelim Begho, one of the founders of Always Me by Anne Li, to find out more about this wonderful new business venture.
Tell us more about your new venture, Always Me by Anne Li
Always Me By Anne Li specialises in creating handcrafted gifts for babies, toddlers and their parents! At Always Me we believe that it is the magical moments in all of our lives that count and seeing your little ones play, laugh and simply live life to the fullest is the most beautiful thing. With our handmade, unique baby and maternity products, such as baby play mats, toddler sleeping bags, bibs, diaper bags and nursing / baby pillows, Always Me brings more colour and love into these magical moments. Our products are beautifully designed to grow with your baby from newborn age to toddler-age. We also ensure that each product is safe for your baby to sleep on, lie and play on and cuddle with. Every item in the Always Me by Anne Li product line is a one-of-a-kind and skilfully made by our designers and seamstresses using the best quality materials and incorporating African fabrics and designs. You also have the option to personalise or customise any of our products, making them even more special.
"In Nigeria, entrepreneurship is interwoven into the society and culture, thus we all come from an entrepreneurial background in one way or the other."
What inspired you to start the company?
The Always Me by Anne Li product line was inspired by the birth of the daughter of one of the founders of our company and has grown through our shared passion for creating long-lasting memories for parents and their babies. After seeing the reactions to our first ever products at the baby-shower, we were inspired to share the joy that our unique pieces bring. At Always Me we love unique pieces, therefore we do not repeat designs for most of our products. Only pillows, bibs and onesies are produced in multiples, all other pieces are unique and produced only once, which makes them a one of a kind, something which mothers and fathers love.
What makes your products so unique?
Our products are unique because they are handcrafted. They are made with carefully chosen quality materials that are child friendly. We test our products’ durability and ensure that the finishing is done to a very high standard. We have a carefully thought through quality control process that helps ensure the quality and standard of our products.
Apart from the quality, products like our playmats are made only once! We love these unique pieces, therefore we do not repeat designs for most of our products. They can also be customised with the baby’s name, date of birth, or even a bible verse, a wish or a prayer.
Lastly the colours are absolutely amazing and we spend hours selecting fabrics that appeal to children.
"We are looking to extend our product range within the next year and increase our production capacity, as well as expand our distribution network into other countries within Africa and Europe."
Tell us a little about your team
The Always Me by Anne Li brand was founded by 3 women who have 4 things in common - they are all friends, they all love business, they all share the same vision for the company, and they all have other full-time jobs. The team is very versatile and includes:
Ashim Egunjobi, who works in real-estate finance by day and manages everything finance for Always Me by night.
Ijeome Nwoke who works in pre-sales at a leading OEM in Nigeria by day and manages everything distribution and supply chain at night.
Nkemdilim Begho who runs Futuresoft, an IT service company by day and manages everything product development and design by night.
As a team we stay true to ourselves and are ALWAYS ME!
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
Our journey started with a vision inspired by the birth of the daughter of one of the co-founders and has since spiralled into a small company with a team of talented tailors! We officially launched the brand in November 2014, so we are still brand new and have not yet hit our 6 month milestone…..The brand has been well received and we have been able to build a client base within and outside of our network with lots of return clients who help spread the word and love the pieces we produce. They also help give amazing insight to what else we should be thinking of. We can’t wait to see where it takes us!
In terms of our entrepreneurial background, in Nigeria entrepreneurship is interwoven into the society and culture, thus we all come from an entrepreneurial background in one way or the other.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
We are looking to extend our product range within the next year and increase our production capacity, as well as expand our distribution network into other countries within Africa and Europe. We are currently working on finding suitable partners and ensuring that we have seamless logistics. We also hope to have a physical store in Lagos by the end of the year.
"What gives us the most satisfaction? The fact that what we are doing brings joy to others is absolutely priceless!"
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Mmmmhhhh…..Happy clients and the ooohs and aaahs we get when people see and experience our products, as well as the pictures they send of their lovely babies and kids using our products. The fact that what you are doing brings joy to others is absolutely priceless! The other day we were busy exhibiting our new collection when two lovely ladies approached us, one after the other, to say they had recently received an Always Me playmat for their babies and were just blown away by it. That sort of affirmation keeps us going. We also have loads of clients who send us photos of their babies and tots using the products which absolutely warms our hearts.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Believe in your vision, share it with the world and never give up. Put aside all your fears - if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough!
Contact or follow 'Always Me by Anne Li'
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why LoA loves it….
Creating something truly unique that has instant appeal to your chosen target market is always a challenge, but it is one that the talented team of women entrepreneurs at Always Me by Anne Li have achieved brilliantly with their range of truly beautiful, ‘must-have’ baby products. In this rapidly growing and important marketplace, this is one uniquely African, world-class design brand that is destined for great things. --- Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa founder and editor-in-chief