Introducing Obánj High-End Jewelry Rental App Founder, Melissa Kiguwa

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Fashion Me In Style

When the pandemic hit in 2020, a lot of people found their sense of entrepreneurship.

Some took advantage of the opportunity to focus on a passion that had been simmering inside them, while many people lost their jobs and had to deal with the coronavirus's negative repercussions. One of them was Melissa Kiguwa.

Kiguwa launched Obanj last summer as the globe was still in shock over COVID-19. The company's monthly membership program lets customers borrow expensive jewelry. Members have a choice of two membership options ($49/month or $99/month) and may select up to three pieces from a wide selection of fine jewelry. Additionally, members are free to exchange parts as frequently as they like.

In the entertainment business, Kiguwa began her career. Before she became an executive assistant, the businesswoman was a journalist. Her "passion for luxury living and style" helped her build a successful company. She applied her knowledge to pursue a position as chief executive officer.

Kiguwa discussed her brand and how she developed into a prosperous entrepreneur in an interview.

What inspired Obánj, and how did you make it come to life?

For the new majority, Obánj is a platform for renting out fine jewelry that is sustainable. Through a monthly membership, users have access to a variety of high-end designer jewelry brands including Dior, YSL, Chanel, Hermés, and more. In addition, they can get items for less money.

In the summer of 2021, we started operating. We started a tech company in the midst of a pandemic, which still astounds me. To build a brand that gives our members a sense of being noticed, our staff is tremendously ambitious, enthusiastic, and driven.

The route you took to becoming self-employed was interesting. What led you to become an app owner after working as a writer and an executive assistant?

It's true that the journey had a few twists and turns. I got the opportunity to tour the world while working as a journalist for radio and television. While I felt tremendously pleased to learn about many cultures and viewpoints, traveling was also a disturbing experience. On the one hand, it was like being in a global school. But I kept coming face to face with the fact that the rest of the world is directly and visibly affected by the way we Westerners consume.

Several years later, I attempted to make the switch to a Hollywood profession in film or television. While I do have a few fantastic memories from my time as a famous producer's executive assistant, I really fought to make sense of my consciousness and my desire to "live the life" at the time. Fashion contributes 10% of the world's carbon emissions, and the manufacture of jewelry, in particular, raises serious ethical and environmental problems related to mining, gem extraction, gem cutting, and hazardous waste.

My love of luxurious life and style are merged with my consciousness through obánj. My love for storytelling is evident across the brand even if I'm no longer involved in television or film.

Which quality, and why, is most critical to entrepreneurship?

We are actively raising money for our business by bringing on investors who are convinced that what we are doing has a market opportunity. Less than 2% of all venture money has gone to female entrepreneurs; 0.64 % has gone to Black female founders, making it a journey that has shaped who they are as people.

We are creating a dynamic, long-lasting thing at our venture-backed company.

I feel it's crucial to continuously learn and to surround yourself with people who share your belief in the mission and vision of your company as well as in you, the entrepreneur, in order to adapt to the changes and difficulties that inevitably arise while attempting to develop anything.

Additionally, I believe that resilience, work ethic, and focus will help you go where talent and intellect cannot.

What are your expectations for the market saturation of your brand? Have you considered starting a business in a different industry?

We have a solid basis upon which to construct something dynamic and game-changing through unmatched narrative, strategic alliances with premium brands and jewelers, and partnerships with cultural luminaries.

Our expertise in recognizing the unmet consumption needs of cultural groups with significant purchasing power gives us a unique chance to develop into the Latina and Asian markets.

Obánj has a promising future, and so does our outlook. For women of color, or what I like to call the "new majority," we'll establish a template that they may follow. Brands that are out of touch with American culture will fall behind as demographics in the country constantly change.

What suggestions do you have for people who want to launch a brand-new business?

You'll be tested in ways you never even imagined were possible by the voyage. Keep continuing while keeping your attention on what is working.


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