Nick Mruttu and Janet Mgendi Mruttu, husband and wife are finding fulfillment after launching Just9 an online store for maternity products. Then in fulltime jobs the couple was so passionate about starting a store for expectant women when they realized how huge the gap was in the market. In February 2012, they decided to give it a try.
“Watching our friends and family struggle to still feel trendy when pregnant, and then going through the same personally, was enough inspiration to get this project up and running,” Janet told TechMoran. “We wanted women to stop feeling lost and unattractive during this beautiful time and to be able to embrace, even flaunt, their new physique. A healthy mind-set and positive body image is crucial during pregnancy.”
Janet says they decided to use technology to cut on overheads and embrace technology instead of having a physical store.
“We felt that with an online store, we would be able to reach a wider population, as most people are tech-savvy these days. We simply deliver orders to our customers’ doorsteps. This also makes it very convenient for the consumers as they don’t have to go looking for us, we get to them,”Janet said.
After the few years in business, Janet says business is not been so bad. The get great brands on their site and sell them for a small margin which they invest back into their store.
However, there are challenges too. Operating only online was quite difficult to get people to trust that the business was genuine- understandably so with all the fraud online. So most people wanted to have an actual look at the items being sold. This meant that we had to haul all the items to wherever the person was, just so they can choose and fit. Also with a rapidly changing body, a woman is at times not able to accurately state her current size, meaning we at times end up sending them items that don’t fit them. Making deliveries to customers who are not within Nairobi city and outside the country is sometimes tricky but we are working on getting that right.
With all these they decided to open a physical location at Nairobi’s Valley Arcade, Mbaazi Avenue, in addition to the online store. Janet says there only biggest competitor is the second hand market which has cheap products but not as quality.
“The beauty with our products is that it’s all brand new, and designed to fit through out one’s pregnancy. There is hardly a need to keep on buying clothes as the pregnancy progresses. The other unique aspect is that the same garments can also be worn after pregnancy, should one wish to. Most are designed in such a way that a woman can easily and conveniently nurse her baby. The outfits are, therefore,great value for money”, Janet says.
In 2 years, Janet says Just9 will have a strong presence throughout Kenya and East Africa and she encourages everyone to try out their hands at business as had it not been for Just 9, they would probably still be employed and cursing at why they’re no great fashionable clothes for pregnant and nursing women.