Danaqa World Chic, the retail outlet that opened six years ago, will close its doors at the end of December.
Embracing change has been my biggest lesson in running Danaqa. What you envision is not always what ends up happening. Things change. This was true before Danaqa opened for my personal journey – I hadn’t envisioned opening a shop when I was an 13 years old. The world changes, you meet people, get inspired, have ideas, then sometimes try to do something with those ideas. Danaqa was an idea that I acted on. It was a concept that was inspired by many things. Firstly, a desire to find a solution to a series of problem. Small producers in developing countries need a market for their products. The reputation of certain countries is an artificial and unfair boundary that producers of high quality products need to overcome. There is a lack of capacity from some amazing producers to meet large orders from big buyers over small time periods, but that shouldn’t mean they should be excluded from export markets. Finally, Danaqa was a business with an inspiration, style, image and philosophy of the person it was inspired by, my wife. Early palettes that were put together for Danaqa were based on her bracelets. We never sold a product she wouldn’t buy. I wanted to create a business in her image.
When Danaqa launched, the business plan forecast a growth of the retail business, with the opening of numerous physical shops throughout London, Europe and beyond. That is not a reality today, and because of that I am sad. For many other reasons I am proud.
Danaqa worked with producers from various countries – Ethiopia, Rwanda, Botswana, Tanzania, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Iran and Indonesia. For most of our suppliers we have worked with for the past seven years we were the first company they have exported to, the company that helped them create bank accounts, processes for growing. And most have outgrown us. This is what we wanted.
I still remember opening on a Saturday morning in July and sitting for over two hours, in a shop next to “the famous blue door from the film Notting Hill”, waiting to make a sale. Fifteen minutes into that wait I was convinced we would never sell anything.
I remember all the people who gave me advice. Helped. I remember seeing one of our handbags being carried onto a bus for the first time. I remember when we pitched Danaqa to buyers at John Lewis – I was so proud of having a business good enough to even get that opportunity. I remember all of the breaks that we almost had. I am proud of opening a shop 6 years ago, proud that we tried.
Danaqa the shop is closing, but as a business and concept we are not. Danaqa will evolve into a new business providing advice and consultancy services to organisations as facilitation experts. It is something that we have been doing for the past four years, and are good at it. It is something we are passionate about because creating dialogues and conversations, linkages and connections is important. It is a business in the image of my wife, as the shop was.
For further information on the next chapter of our story please visit changebyexchange.co