Monday, July 26, 2010

Fulani Hats – Products At Tango Zulu Imports

As the temperature rises, the popularity of our Fulani hats rises with it. At Tango Zulu Imports, we carry three different styles of Fulani hats, all at very competitive prices.
The Fulani people are the largest nomadic group in the world, concentrated predominantly in West Africa. They are largely nomadic cattle herders and traders. The straw hats, known as Fulani hats, are used by these cattle herders to shield themselves from the African sun.
The largest is the Mali Fulani Hat. This hat has a large brim, the diameter of the brim ranges from 14″ to 17″. The brim is trimmed with leather and its end is marked by two black woven stripes where the rise of the crown starts. The conical shaped crown measures 6″ to 8″ tall, and is topped off with a patch of leather and a topknot with tassels. The smallest of our Fulani hats is almost identical to its bigger brother, except it has a narrower brim and several leather patch decorations around the base of the crown. Both of these hats have a long adjustable leather chin strap. Both hats are handmade in Mali.
The third variation is the Fulani Hat from Burkina Faso. Similarly leather-trimmed at the brim, the leather decorative patterns at the crown are more elaborate and the crown is round, unlike the topknot of the Mali Fulani hats.
I own a Mali Fulani hat myself, which I often use when I work in the field or garden. Sometimes, I wear it around town. I know there are many more people who have purchased the hat from Tango Zulu Imports, from both coasts of the country and many more within the state. Maybe one day, I will run into one of them and then I will tip my hat to them!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Growing A Small Business - Journal of a Small Business Owner #5

Founding and managing Tango Zulu Imports has been an experience both challenging and rewarding. We are two well-educated, smart, driven and business-savvy individuals who had long harbored ambitions to run our own business. Tracy majored in International business while I had a economics minor; Tracy had been a partner and CFO in a start-up, while I had studied business structure and financial analysis for business investing; I have a very strong technical background to help our website along - I worked at Amazon from its early days through its meteor rise as a core part of its online website teams and have been a senior network architect for many years. We were confident we had a pretty solid background in the business and technical sides of our adventure. We analyzed our business plan, financing and operating models and our projections are for the most part, right on the money. We were also aware that marketing was likely our weakness.

Prepared as we were, we were somewhat surprised at how demanding running a business is, even a small one. I took some time off from my day job and we spent many 14 to 16 hours days to get the business up and running. For every thing we had considered, there were two more that we did not take into account. Light bulbs, curtains, hangers, printer paper, programming and learning to use the cash register, formulating an inventory tracking system....We finally let out a long held breath when the store opened. A myriad of new tasks came along - display arrangement, product photos, price tagging, signs, shopping bags, shipping boxes...

Since we started this business, Tracy has been spending 9 hours a day, 7 days a week at the shop, and at night, we both get on our second job of preparing all the things that needed to be done for the website and the business in general. We started one business, but we have both been working as if we had two jobs.

The joy of all this is a sense of fulfillment. I can say this without blushing because as much as I would have enjoyed monetary rewards from the business, we are only nine weeks into our adventure and are a ways from becoming a profitable business. When majority of our customers who come into the store show their appreciation of the goods we sell, when so many of them tell us we have reasonable prices, when so many of our local customers return and bring their family and friends, we believe we have done something right. Our stated business mission is to bring unique and quality goods at reasonable prices to our customers. We believe that through our hard work, and treat our customers as we would like to be treated as customers, we will, as many of our customers tell us, do great.