COMPANY: Ethnic District
LOCATION: Atlanta, Georgia
MISSION: To make specialty, ethnic products easily accessible worldwide and help small brands in developing countries break into the international market.
HERSTORY: I was born in Ghana, West Africa and migrated to the United States with my father when I was six. I have an amazing husband, a tenacious 2-year-old daughter and another princess due in January. From an early age, I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I attended Georgia Gwinnett College and Georgia Perimeter College for my undergrad, but dropped out my sophomore year after changing my major four times.
I just felt like college was too constrained for me. I couldn’t find my purpose there, preferred hands-on learning and being in the workforce and learning from there. Fortunately for me, my resourcefulness and ability to learn quickly gave me the opportunity to work for some amazing companies like Bank of America, Sage Software, Apple and The 100 Companies where I learned a lot about running a business.
“I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how to go about it from a technical standpoint. It was just a matter of me getting users to use our marketplace platform and pay us for it.”
How difficult was it to develop Ethnic District from concept to launch?
Somewhat easy! I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how to go about it from a technical standpoint. It was just a matter of me getting users to use our marketplace platform and pay us for it. Since I am a web developer, I was able to build our MVP (Minimal Viable Product) with only $80. From there I launched and kept tweaking the business model as we gained more insight from our customers.
What inspired you to launch the e-commerce site?
Ethnic District was actually a solution for a problem that I was personally facing. I was so tired of driving 30 minutes to the closest specialty African store in my area—only to find that they were out of stock of the items that I was looking for.
I would dread whenever friends and family members would ask me to bring them certain items whenever I travelled to Ghana, because they didn’t know how to get these items in the states.
I thought to myself, how cool would it be to have a marketplace where African brands can sell directly to customers in the diaspora. This is what led to Ethnic District becoming a marketplace initially. Of course, we are no longer a marketplace—we sell direct to consumer—but this is what initiated our original business idea.