Natalie Manima, founder of Bespoke Binny speaks on her business, life and career

Natalie Manima is the founder and creative director of Bespoke Binny, an eclectic homeware brand rooted in African expression. Bespoke Binny is a British based business offering a range of handmade homeware and gifts items made from West African fabric. The product range includes pillows, lampshades, aprons, oven gloves, table runners and card holders.

Manima, who is of Ghanaian descent, says she created Bespoke Binny because of her belief that the ‘home is where the heart is’ and having a peaceful home environment is essential to the maintenance of mental clarity, which has been reinforced by my work.

She lives and works in London as a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Treatment (CBT) Therapist and has seen the impact of one’s environment particularly when trying to cope with mental health issues such as anxiety.

In this interview with Rachel Ogbu, YNaija UK correspondent, Natalie Manima talks about how she started her business, her biggest milestone, personal victories and her next big plan.

Q: When did you establish your brand?

A: Bespoke Binny was established 2013.

Q: How long have you been in business?

A: I have been in business for 4 years now.

Q: When did you decide this is what you wanted to do?

A: It’s been a combination of things, starting off as a hobby, enjoying making my products, getting positive reviews and demand for the things I make have all added to my decision to keep Bespoke Binny going and continue to grow.

Q: Can you list some exciting milestones in your life with the dates? (eg: awards, honours, personal highs) Top career moments so far?

A: I think the biggest personal high for Bespoke Binny has been being stocked in the British Library during their West Africa Exhibition.

Q: How do you feel about all the recognition you’ve received?

A: It feels amazing, very humbling and I feel very fortunate to have built something that others love and recognise as worthwhile.

Q: What do people not know about you and what you do?

A: Most people don’t know that I manage my time between Bespoke Binny and working as a CBT therapist. I do this because I genuinely love both career choices and have found a way to successfully manage the two.

Q: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

A: Live your truth! Do what feels best for you, and don’t worry too much about what you think you ‘should’ be doing.

Q: Have you ever had moments when you wanted to quit?

A: Yes. I have had a couple of moments, once where I made some business decisions for Bespoke Binny to gain further recognition that did not go as planned. This left me out of pocket and I questioned myself and my judgment, which led to me consider quitting. The second time was after experiencing a stillbirth last year. It was a very personal tragedy for myself, my husband and my whole family and for a time I lost my passion for Bespoke Binny.

Q: Which living person do you most admire, and why? 

A: My mother. She is resilience and determination personified and I admire her tremendously for that. That’s the kind of energy I have grown up with and I think that plays a big role in shaping who I am today.

Q: What is the worst job you’ve done?

A: Goodness! I honestly don’t think I have had any terrible jobs. Probably one of the retail jobs I think we have all had whilst you are at college or university. Though having said that I made friends with some lovely people that I’m still friends with now so I wouldn’t knock those either.

Q: You are known for thinking big and taking risks, both in business and in your personal adventures. What’s the secret to your drive? 

A: I don’t know if it’s a secret! As I mentioned earlier I think my mom really instilled in me (probably without knowing) to try your best, even if things don’t work out in the end and to keep going even if things are tough. Persistence and resilience will get you through most things and will keep driving you forward.

Q: What’s your advice to young people trying to weather the economic hardship?

A: I don’t know how qualified I feel to answer that. I think I would say do what you can with what you have. Particularly when it comes to business I think we can often feel we have to have massive budgets or grand plans to get started. Whilst in an ideal world that would be lovely, it that’s not something available to us. I would say start small, no mater how small and grow organically from there.

Q: Please give use a tip on how to remain successful

A: Remember why you started and always keep in mind any key goals you are trying to achieve. Listen to your customers very carefully, they are the backbone of your business after all so they should never be too far from your mind when making decisions about your business.

Q: What’s the next big project you’re pursuing?

A: There are no specific projects on the cards, for now. Our big project is to keep on getting bigger  and better

Q: What record do you plan to break next?  

A: I like the sound of being a record breaker! I’d love to hold a record around how big our brand has grown, let’s go for that!
Natalie Manima

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