I had the utmost pleasure of meeting this beautiful soul during the ACE Awards 2021, where she won the category for the best home & lifestyle brand. I was beyond awed at her graciousness, humility and positivity that she radiated at every point. Hence why I am honoured and thrilled to meet the Founder of Yasmin Crafts in this exclusive interview.
*To know more about the products, simply click on the images*
With no further ado, let’s meet the Founder of Yasmin Crafts for an exclusive interview.
Please Introduce yourself and your background.
My name is Hamsatu Aliyu-Afegbua and I’m an architect and hand-crafter. By the grace of God, I juggle 2 businesses: Eden Signature Limited, an Architectural and Interior design firm as well as Yasmin Crafts Limited which is my handicrafts business. Both of them are situated in Abuja, Nigeria. I am a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with an M.Sc in Architecture. I also hold a certificate in Entrepreneurship Management under the EDC, from Lagos Business School.
Tell us about your work. How did your company start?
We produce handcrafted products in the form of furniture, home decor and multi-purpose baskets. We use locally available raw materials to create these products. The brand Yasmin Crafts was born to satisfy the need for a custom crafts provider that could give better quality handcrafted products in Abuja.
How did you come about the name and what does it mean?
“Yasmin” is my proposed first daughter’s name. The “crafts” I derived from the general term “handicrafts” which is the term used to describe our niche.
What is your niche and how did you know it was a market to get into?
My niche is Handicrafts. Known by some as Arts and Crafts. Living in Abuja for over 2 decades, I came to realise there was no craft maker who could skillfully add on accessories like real leather, fabric, logos, and art on products to enhance them. Most of the attempts to customise crafts, that I saw by the roadside or in the local markets did not turn out looking too good. One day, I decided to buy the basket from the market and then, customise it to my taste. It turned out great and everybody asked me where I bought the customised basket from.
The rest is history. 3 years down the line, here we are 😊. I started out with baskets and decor and within a year into the business, we had begun furniture production.
*The Lidded Laundry hamper with removable liner is available in 5 different colors including natural, you can tuck this hamper away in a corner of your bed or bath room and keep those clothes off the floor.*
*These stunning natural wicker planters are a nice way to add interior plants into your home. They come with bottoms designed to drain water away from the plant pot you intend to place inside the basket. Great for both real and faux plants.*
Where do you get inspiration for your products?
From my imagination and from observing the needs in the market. I sketch ideas down and develop them. I also draw inspiration from nature.
Another source of inspiration is listening to feedback from our customers, especially negative feedback. We take the feedback and examine our way of doing things as a business. We change what we can and fix what we can’t.
I tell my entire team that here at Yasmin Crafts, customer service is not just one department, it is all of us. Working as a team and sharing feedback has helped us grow as a business.
*Giving gifts are an essential part of life and relationships. The packaging container is what will be seen first, so make it a memorable time for the person who is receiving it. This trunk is a classy woven gift box that you can be proud of placing your luxury gifts in.*
*With the high quality interior lining be ready to wow your recipients and make a great impression. You can’t go wrong with this as your choice of container when it comes to gifting. The best part is, the gift recipient can use the trunk as an extra storage, extra seating to give another gift or even as a decorative piece afterwards!*
Can you remember one of the first products you made?
Yes. It is a 2 tone coiled raffia basket that I made to store my small jewellery pieces in. I was just learning how to weave at the time, and I had to push myself to try and finish it. I’m very proud of that basket.
What are some of the challenges you face in your business?
Lack of funds to expand our production. Buying large scale woodworking equipment and conducting more research on product development.
Do you have any regrets about venturing into this business?
Not at all.
What is your most popular product?
Our Aisha set of 3 multi-purpose baskets is one of our best sellers. This is because they can serve a multitude of purposes like storage, home organisation, home decor and gifting purposes.
Aisha baskets are available in 2 designs: a Plain basket with no fabric lining and our fabric lined baskets.
*Customised Aisha storage baskets. These gorgeously lined baskets can serve a wide variety of purposes. They come in 3 different fabric lining as pictures unless you say otherwise. There is a touch of Ankara to symbolise Africa.*
Top uses among our customers for these baskets include:
- Making a set of gift hampers with each basket.
- Decluttering table tops.
- Storing small items.
- Displaying products for sale at a store.
- Using them as a tray for serving snacks.
- Hanging them as a wall decor basket.
- Styling a shelf or console.
These baskets are dry use only, please note.
To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian heritage for your work?
We spice things up with touches of popular Nigerian cultural items like sewing beadwork on the handles of our baskets. We also make use of African fabrics to customise our baskets, decor and furniture.
What are some of your short term and long term goals, both in your business and life in general?
Short term, we hope to be able to invest in large scale woodworking machinery and power tools that will help scale up production and cater for the time demands of our customers. Handcrafting is a slow process, having the right machinery speeds things up.
In the long run, we hope to expand our sales and grow the naira through large scale exports. Promoting quality African crafts all over the world is another long term goal we hope to achieve through expanding our locations.
For my goal in life, I’ll say I hope to be recorded in the history books as the founder of a premium Nigerian lifestyle brand that created employment for millions of women We currently employ a majority of women in our workforce and we intend to keep it that way.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I do some of the metal and carpentry work at Yasmin Crafts.
*This handy piece of furniture helps you save space. With varying sizes of storage baskets, you can organise and display products or decor items on these ladder shelf. Ladder shelves makes for an eye catching display and are great for small spaces where you need a tall storage option. Available in 3 colors: Dark brown, Black and White.*
What profession would you be in if you weren’t in this industry?
I would be in the building profession, which I am already privileged to have been doing long before I founded Yasmin Crafts.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to start their own business in your industry, what would it be?
Learn the skill of crafting if you can. Knowing how to make your own products or some of them, is definitely an added advantage.
Take your failures as a part of the success to come. It may take a lot of time, and you will have to be committed and disciplined to be able to launch and sustain a business in hand-crafting.
It has been an absolute pleasure having this exclusive interview and getting to meet the Founder of Yasmin Crafts.
To connect with Yasmin Crafts, you can follow and contact her via:
WhatsApp: +234 901 0909 292