• Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

Insights on how to run a successful company by Ohana swimwear CEO, Neema Nkatha.

ByLizz Kira

Dec 1, 2021
courtesy: Ohana swimwear

1. Tell us a little backstory of Ohana swimwear.

I was in my last semester, about to finish University and go for Europe tour. It was summer in Europe and so I would need a swimsuit. Being my first time traveling alone, I wanted to stand out and look really stylish and exotic abroad. There was everything African print and authentic from clothing to shoes, backpacks everything except swimwear. Yet when I checked other countries they had their own swimwear brands. This got me thinking and I ordered my first swimsuit from abroad where I could custom make from. Initially I didn’t think much of it because I just needed a swimsuit to serve a personal need. However, when it arrived I knew I had something golden with this. When I showed my dad the African print swimsuit, he suggested I do my due diligence/ market survey and see if this is something my friends would actually buy. Put their money where their mouth is. Fair enough, some of my friends were willing to buy and I encouraged them to share pictures and tell a friend to tell a friend. Soon, my parents helped me secure a loan from a microfinance bank to mass produce a whole collection which I was able to sell out and pay back in less than 6 months. My father loaned me the money for the first design and we can say the rest is history. My process inspired the name Ohana. The meaning of Ohana lies on the essence of a larger family that is not necessarily connected by blood. A persons Ohana can include their best friends, neighbors, or anyone else who is special in their life. The people within it are bound together by genuine compassion, culture, support, loyalty, and love for each other. This goes to show a little encouragement and belief in somebody can go a long way.

2. In an alternate universe what do you think you’d be doing?

I would like to have healing powers or invent a cure for the incurable diseases like cancer.

3. Advice to young entrepreneurs in Kenya.


Kenyans need to build their brands for the long-term if they want to compete favorably in the country and global stage. We need to think long term and build credible, reputable brands that will stand the test of time.

4.How's your typical day like?

My days and schedule are different almost daily. I like to focus on important things to tackle first.

5. Most frequent challenges you face in your day to day working at Ohana swimwear?

The biggest challenge would be making progress amidst chaos. This year especially being a pandemic year, it is so easy to get distracted and be pulled in so many directions when trying to balance creating an exciting optimistic future while maximizing results today. Providing reassurance and sense of stability an organization needs especially during a recession is a challenge I face everyday

6. Starting a business with investors or taking a loan?

Definitely starting a business with Angel investors. Avoid taking a loan as much as you can.

7. Your biggest setback so far?

While Kenya is a great country, the opportunities available are not many. Biggest setback I face in the creative space is access to funding to not only sustain but also scale my business and that is one of the biggest issues for SMEs.

courtesy: Ohana swimwear

8. Where do you get the inspiration for your beautiful pieces?


My African heritage and traditions are the core of my business. That is what inspires our prints, styles, colors hence it is very important because if we lose that, we lose who we are and what we stand for as a business.

9. Define success in your own words.

Success is waking up everyday, being happy and living the life you dream about.

10. How long have you been in business and where do you see yourself in 5years?

I have been in the business for 4years and we are going to be the leading brand championing for Africans swimming in 5 years.

11. How do you balance your work and every other aspect of your life?

I understand it can be quite the challenge. I try to make time for everything that's important to me.

12.A principle you live by?

If it's under God it's under control

13. People don't buy products they buy the brand. What's your understanding of this?

People want to know the story behind the brand, they do not just want to buy the product. They seek more product information and more value, also how long it will last.

14. Your products have quite catchy names. How do you come up with them?

The names are inspired by friends and relatives.

courtesy: Ohana swimwear

15. How can our audience purchase from Ohana swimwear?

Platforms where one can find my products. Instagram @ohana.swimwear, Facebook: Ohana Swimwear, twitter: @ohanaswimwear, website www.ohanafamilywear.com, youtube: Ohana Swimwear

16. In your opinion what's the effect of time and consistency in startups?

Growing a successful startup takes time, talent, and solid business acumen. Consistency establishes your reputation. Business growth requires a track record of success. 

17. Who is your biggest supporter and source of motivation?


My family has been my backbone who have motivated and supported me financially and emotionally.

18. A strength aspect of your personality that has really helped your position in Ohana.

I would say that my strengths are my curiosity, drive, and ability to energy from interacting with other people by building long-lasting and trusting professional relationships with the people within my team, dependencies teams, and external stakeholder. These strengths are part of what makes me an excellent CEO in Ohana.

19. How do you come up with the designs?

Ohana Swimwear combines the latest fabrics, colours and prints to create modern designs influenced by emerging international trends as well as the African culture. We want each Ohana swimwear to be a real piece of art and to convey its inspirational side as well as to challenge the senses. Hence why its a highly inventive brand drawing inspiration from traditions and cultures.

20. What's your parting shot?

We hope to inspire residents and tourists when they think of made in Kenya swimwear products, especially Ohana Swimwear, they associate it with high quality, authentic and uniqueness that is associated with imported products and international brands.


Lizz Kira

Lizz Kira is Vazi Couture's CEO and Chief Editor, A position she has held since 2020. She is passionate about African Fashion and its impact on Social Sustainability.

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