Saltbox is proud to support numerous developing businesses as they grow and scale around the nation and internationally. We share in their dreams of expansion and commitment to service in their communities today and every day forward.
En Route recognizes some of the top business owners who use Saltbox to develop their operations around the world. Joining in meaningful conversation, En Route host Cee Ng, host and CEO of Live Learn Dream, covers all things business, growth, and development for Saltbox members. This week, we’re focusing on growing in space with Imani Collective. We learn that working in a Saltbox does much more than provide infrastructural space for business entrepreneurs. With resources focused on helping the logistics of your business, you can spend more time growing emotionally as a leader.
Our latest En Route guest comes from a small village in Mombasa, Kenya, the home of Imani Collective. Jenny Nuccio, CEO and Founder of Imani Collective, traveled to Kenya to help fund education projects for kids. After connecting with the community and families in Mombasa, Jenny decided to move to Kenya full-time to learn from and invest in the village she fell in love with. By helping develop skills within the community, Jenny began Imani Collective with sixteen women within the village. Today, Imani Collective is a socio-economic women empowerment program that makes ethical lifestyle home decor items based in Mombasa, Kenya, with a stateside team and warehouse based in Dallas, Texas.
Running her business wasn’t always easy. After running her business out of a small office in an old medical building in Dallas, Jenny aimed to expand her company into a space that not only fit her product but also supported her goals to grow and scale the business. Upon joining Saltbox, Jenny was offered warehouse space to expand her business seamlessly. Now having access to invaluable resources and the opportunity to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, Imani Collective took a calculated risk and is now growing in a space built for the company’s specialized needs.
CEE NG: How did you handle letting everything go and starting your business in Kenya?
JENNY NUCCIO: There’s many ways I can answer this question. The first way is that I sold everything, left a box at my mom’s house, and moved to Kenya. I’m glad I took that risk and went with my gut because that led me here. The other risk is being an entrepreneur. I said that I would always pay my people consistent, dignified salaries every month. I also had to show up as a vulnerable leader and be transparent. From the very beginning until now, I am an open book about where we’re at and where we’re going. From our collective on the ground in Kenya, we always represent that we’re better together. Not just better, but our best. That not only resonates with all of us but also with our customers and investors. I am thankful for my vulnerability and being able to show up in a space where people can meet me at that table.
CN: What challenges did you face when starting your business?
JN: I think human, social and financial capital is something we all struggle with. Business owners want to make sure we have the people and the finances to pay them. For me, as a leader, I want to make sure we’re doing everything ethically as well. We take a holistic approach to empowerment, not just in Kenya but also in the states with our team there. We have an amazing team. I don’t think you can replicate a business culture, and our culture is one-of-a-kind.
CN: You now have a successful ecommerce business that you run from Kenya with fulfillment in Dallas, TX. Where did Imani Collective begin?
JN: Everything is produced in Kenya and fulfilled out of Dallas, yes. Again, everything starts from my mom’s house. I left a box there and then I sent my shipments there. When I hired my designer, it quickly transferred to her house and from there we had a small, closet office. No windows, two rooms, and piles of boxes all around. We had to get all of our shipments into our cars, go to a post office, all of that. It was one of those bootstrapping moments. Then Saltbox came, we moved, and it’s been awesome ever since!
CN: What has been your proudest moment thus far?
JN: The biggest step was when we decided to rebrand, started making those shifts, stepping into a for-profit, and creating a hybrid. But we knew we wanted to step into that. So I guess my proudest moment would be choosing to partner with my lead designer, who is now my partner in the business. We are an amazing team and we balance each other out so well. It was such a big step in the right direction. She’s part of the blueprint of Imani Collective. I also would say getting our first investor. I feel like that journey is so grueling and sometimes demeaning because you’re asking, “Why do I always have to prove myself?” Switching over to that hybrid model, partnering with her, getting our first investment, that was all a big morale boost. It’s all just been very exciting in the last few years.
CN: What is your favorite part about entrepreneurship?
JN: My favorite part is to create. It’s kind of like having this limitless mindset. I never thought I’d be a serial entrepreneur. What I love is living this fearless life. I’m always afraid of what’s going to happen or the risk I’m going to take but I still take them in bold and courageous ways. That’s the journey of entrepreneurship: facing that adversity and the idea of being misunderstood but still pushing forward. My joy of this whole, crazy, wild ride is being able to wake up every day and run towards dreams, goals, and visions that are so big.
As a business created by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs, Saltbox prides itself on its member offering offered across the United States. Imani Collective thrives in our Dallas warehouse spaces, not only improving the company’s fulfillment but also offering the mental and emotional space for leveling up the business. Jenny was willing to take risks to put her business in the best ‘space’ it could be. Jenny’s story is not unique as Saltbox connects with many like-minded entrepreneurs and offers invaluable resources to new and scaling businesses around the nation.
Interested in hearing the entire interview with Jenny Nuccio, CEO and Founder of Imani Collective? Check out the full interview here to learn more about running an international business, developing a strong community along with a strong team, and becoming an entrepreneur who inspires everyone to succeed.
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