- Chinonye Jenny Umeh became an entrepreneur after she was bullied in school by her schoolmates for her excessive blinking
- They coined the name 'blinky' as a way to taunt her but she turned it against them and adopted the name for her business and make money from it
- Jenny is now branding T-shirts to companies, individuals and recently, BBNaija Season 6 after many years in the business
Converting what once caused pain and anguish to a major source of income is not an easy task.
Not many have had the strength or nerve to rise from the taunts and piercing laughter of schoolmates and use the same object of pain and make a success of it.
That is what Chinonye Jennifer Umeh, an entrepreneur and owner of Blinky Collections, did.
The beginning of trouble
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"If you look at me very well, you will notice that I blink frequently and that was what people used to taunt and mock me at school."
According to her, she courted trouble the day she jocularly asked a supposedly big boy at school to drop some of his responsibilities for others.
He was the course rep and also vying for a post with the student union in school.
According to her, the big boy began to spread vicious rumours about her in school and invented the name blinky as a way to get back at her.
"Initially, I did not realize I was the one people were referring to as blinky until a classmate drew my attention to it. It was devastating for me because I never knew that the mumblings and murmurings were all meant for me. The bullying was so severe that I would skip class for weeks and that caused me to fail woefully in one semester. A lot of thoughts ran through my mind. Sometimes, immediately I entered the school gate, the bullying would start and I would run back home."
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How the brand name was born
"They made several suggestions. Some said the name is very good and suitable for business, especially in fashion. Some called it Blinky Smart, Blinky this, Blinky that."
That was when she gathered up courage and went to a market at Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, to buy a T-shirt and gave it to a shirt designer to print Blinky on it.
But Jenny couldn’t get to boldly wear it at school. She would put a cardigan over it until one of her coursemates noticed and took the cardigan off. She was mortified and thought the bullying would increase, but to her shock, that shirt ended everything.
The bullying stopped and other people came to ask her to make similar Tees for them and she would charge them a token. Like wildfire, Blinky gained popularity in her school, this time as a brand name even winning her a campaign contract at school to design shirts.
Jennifer decided to learn how to do screen printing from the guy who designed her first tee back in school.
The making of a big shot
That birthed the brightest business idea she has today. Jennifer makes t-shirts for political campaigns, individuals, and for corporate bodies. She also branded the recently ended BBNaija Season 6.
According to Jenifer, she gets orders from outside the country from people she knows nothing about whom she met only on social media.
The graduate of the Federal Polytechnic Offa has another passion. She wants to use philanthropy, which she calls Blink against Bullying to reach people who are being harassed or those whose lives have been affected by bullies.
The former campus correspondent of The Nation Newspapers said she has never been idle even as an undergraduate.
“I have always been busy, using my smartphone to make money. Sometimes, I will manage social media accounts of some companies or individuals."
At a point, she was a campus newspaper publisher and tried her hands on several things.
A hustling spirit
"I have always been a hustler,” she said in one of her Facebook posts. My greatest fear post-university have been how to find a job. I once got a job in a beauty salon, after my youth service, where I was not even allowed to pick my calls. When they told me to stop coming, I thought that was the end of the world,” .
But her spiritedness made her weather that storm. She concentrated on building Blinky Collections brand even when she was ejected from an apartment she shared with a family.
Jennifer advised undergraduates not to be idle and hope for non-existent jobs when they leave school.
Social media to the rescue
According to her, she leveraged the power of social media in a positive way to make a success of her brand.
“Don’t underestimate the power of the internet. Rather than stay idle, youths should scour the internet for what they can do and legitimately make money from."
“Social media has helped me as a person and as an entrepreneur. The success I am seeing in my business today is because of the power of social media. It is a great tool.”
Taunts have not died down yet
Even after finding success with Blinky Collections, the bullies still reach out to her from time to time to denigrate her work. She believes they do that now mostly out of jealousy.
In an interview with Legit.ng, Jeniffer said one of the bullies recently accused her on social media of being proud after she posted about winning awards.
Her company, Blinky Collections also branded the recently concluded BBNaija Season 6 Finale.
The Blinky Collections boss said the bullies wanted her to drop the name since they were the ones who gave it to her. She said she is done running and hiding and wants to fight back, this time through her work.
Woman lands big job after a kind act
Legit.ng reported how a Nigerian businesswoman, Hope Osoma Okpuwara, has enjoined people to endeavour to show kindness after her kind-hearted gesture to a man fetched her a big job.
Hope revealed how her kind gesture of giving a client plantain of N400 got her a job of N1.6 million.
In a Facebook post, the mobile kitchen vendor narrated that months ago, a man who had just been discharged from hospital had ordered for oxtail peppersoup.
The excited man appreciated her for the gesture with a promise to repay Hope's kindness.