“Overall, the pandemic’s impact on my business has not been negative,” says Grace. “With the onset of the pandemic, we switched to producing fabric masks. Before COVI, we did not have many employees but because of the demand for masks we have been able to employ 22 staff. Additionally, since people were spending more time at home, many took an interest in home décor and renovating their spaces, which meant there was a demand for home décor goods. We were able to capitalize on this and create home décor textile items. Since we all work from home, our workers were able to have a safe workspace and generate an income at a time when many people were job insecure. I think our ability to adapt our business and evolve has allowed us to continue to produce and support our community.”
In 2021, Jeilo attended the Textile and Apparel virtual trade show through the support of TFO Canada where they received pre and post trade show training and buyer engagement training. During the show, Jeilo received 173 inquires from buyers.
“Attending an online trade show actually had many benefits because all our inventory was online, and it was quicker and easier for buyers to see items and make inquires about them. It was our first time attending a virtual trade show and, though I had some concerns, it turned out to be pretty good.,” adds Grace.
“These few years have been a whirlwind. Our connection with TFO Canada allowed us to explore a new platform (the online trade show) that was very successful for us. Now my goal for Jeilo is to have a stable and functioning company and too be able to sustainably supply our items to other African countries as well as internationally. I want Jeilo to be found in Nairobi, or Accra or Toronto or New York. Our work now is to continue to inspire the young people in our community by providing them training in skilled craftmanship so they too can change their lives.”