On the Purple Couch with Bahia Akerele

| March 7, 2013

2013-03-008

Bahia Akerele is a wife, a mother, and a budding entrepreneur. And she doesn’t hesitate to share exactly which of these roles is most important to her. Her deep desire to be a focused mother to her young son is what led her to set up shop in one of Washington, DC Metro Area’s busy corridors with something uniquely fun and creative.  On the Purple Couch is a consignment store located on Bonifant Street, in the bustling city of Silver Spring in Maryland. The shop, which holds painting classes and sells upscale clothing to a select clientele, is hailed as “a store with a purpose and a mission… a mix of my life and my experiences of living in some of the most beautiful places in the world… combined with a passion for living and doing good.” Meet Ms. Bahia Akerele, fabulous travelister and owner of On the Purple Couch. Her mother is Liberian and her father is Nigerian.

Bahia AkereleName:  Bahia Akerele
Position: Owner, On the Purple Couch, A Consignment Experience.
Background:  My background is in Social Welfare; specifically I was a consultant working with Philanthropic organizations in the DC area.  In 2008 I had major back surgery which changed the way I could work.  In 2009 I got married, and had a baby in 2011. After a year of staying home with our son I decided to start a local consignment store that would blend my love of clothing and home décor, hence On the Purple Couch.  I sell upscale consigned clothes, painted furniture & Chalk Paint® decorative paint.
Age:  Very proud that I will be 40 in April…woohooo.
Country of Birth:  USA
Country of Residence:  USA
Education:  BA Sociology, BA African Studies, Masters degree in Social Work, Graduate Certificate in Marketing  & Fellowship in Philanthropy & Civil Society.
Marital status: Married to Edward W. Neufville, III Esq, Managing Partner at Law Office of Edward W. Neufville, III, and mom to Master Edward W. Neufville, IV, fine boy.
Role Model:  My mother Hon. Olubanke King- Akerele, Former Minister  of  Foreign Affairs Liberia, West Africa; 20 year United Nations Veteran, Economist, Author & Philanthropist
Favorite Thing to Do: Spending time in nature, being with my family & friends.
Favorite Dish: Potato Greens, Liberian dish
Guilty Pleasure(s):  Gummy Bears & Coke
Last Book Read: Business manual for class. Can’t remember the name
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/onthepurplecouch
Twitter Handle:
@thepurplecouch2
Website:  www.onthepurplecouch.com

Invest in your education post University. Post Masters training etc. Keep your eyes open and learn, learn, learn.  Learn from anyone and any situation. Keep learning and keep being a student.

What does the On the Purple Couch Consignment Store mean to you?
It means economic independence, professionalism, bringing items to markets that are different, new, and fresh. It means having a creative outlet and a sense of community, and being part of the economic engine of the region.  For me it means that I am a player, a participant and an engaged citizen.

How did you come up with the name On the Purple Couch?
It literally came to me. When I started thinking about the business. I was not sure where it would be located or what it might look like.  What I knew for sure was that I wanted to have a “purple couch” in the store. Talking one day with my mentor Diane Bell McKoy, president of Associated Black Charities, we began brainstorming store names.  At one point she said “why don’t you call it Purple Couch?  I screamed “yes, yes, that’s it”.   When I went to buy the URL “Purple Couch” was already taken and so …On the Purple Couch..tah dahhhh.

Explain the consignment experience. How does it work?
We accept lightly worn top label and designer clothes that are freshly dry cleaned, on a hanger and have no signs of wear, pulls, stains, wrinkles or odors. We particularly love Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, Prada, Tiffany & Co., and Brooks Brothers cloths. We also accept shoes, jewelry and accessories, and on occasion, antique furniture.

Once we receive and accept items, we price them at 25-50% of the original price depending on the brand, style, condition and so on. We then split the proceeds from the sale with the consignor. Full details of our consignment guidelines can be found on our website.

Was it always your dream to own your own business?
I was a business owner prior to opening the store. Akerele Consultants was a one-woman (me) consulting practice.  A one man/woman show of course is different from a store front.  My dream was not opening a store, no. My dream has always been to have a family – a good strong family. And I wanted a job where I could bring my child along.  Now that was part of my dream; having a place where I could also have my son.

When did it first hit you that you were finally living your dream?
I am blessed. I have a good family and we are building ourselves to be strong. I am grateful to God for that.

What type of items do you sell?
I sell upscale consigned clothes, such as Valentino and Ferragamo, painted furniture & Chalk Paint® decorative paint. We also have accessories and jewelry.

Describe the most challenging part of your job.
I would have to say turning off. I am always on, always thinking about what I need to do.

What gets you out of bed every morning and keeps you going?
My family keeps me going. Having to pay the rent on the store puts fire under me big time…lol

If you could tell an aspiring business woman to invest in just one thing, what would it be, and why?
Invest in your education post University. Post Masters training etc. Keep your eyes open and learn, learn, learn.  Learn from anyone and any situation. Keep learning and keep being a student.

Best of luck to you all…Bahia

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