Align Magazine got a chance to catch up with Millennial entrepeneur, Hassan Dieme, about his online business, which promotes artwork from his home country as well as his journey into creative entrepreneurship. Here is what he had to say….
So Hassan, tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m Hassan Dieme, last name pronounced “JAMMAY”. I am from Senegal in West Africa and have been in the US for 11 years now. I am a model, a business owner and a fitness enthusiast.
Great, now tell us all about your business and creative endeavors. I started modeling in 2016 and created Casa De Mansa in 2018 which is an online boutique that sells and promote African artisans crafts. We specialize in home decor, furniture and interior design with our products stemming from different countries in Africa. We make these products available throughout North America. We understand that people have different tastes in design, so we have a variety of unique items that can make your house feel like a traditional safari home or more modern and contemporary.
Tell us a little about the journey getting here. Has it been an easy journey thus far? It was not an easy journey. I had the idea to start my business venture when I was in college around 2011, but I just created it last year. Every beginning is tough, especially for a business like mine; I had to find and network with artisans that are from Africa, find a supplier who’s willing to ship items from Africa to America with all the regulations and taxes. But with technology and all the resources available to us, we made it work. I have a great team that works together and we try to find a solution to every problem our customers might have.
Kudos to you for providing a way for others to feed their families. What would you say sets you apart from competition? What set us aside from the competition is our products. They are unique. You cannot find these products in North America at our price. Our handmade items are made directly from the Artisans themselves and then sent to us, there’s no 3rd party involved.
“In the future I would like to open a physical store in the States and one in Senegal so I can be part of the growth and development of my country by investing in agriculture and renewable energy.”Hassan Dieme
Wow, that sounds like a lot of ground work. What is one thing we should know about Casa De Mansa? We work closely with our partners and help them showcase their beautiful work to the world. Since the artisans typically remain close to their perspective areas, their work can’t be seen unless you are physically there in Africa. A percentage of our sales are going back to the artisans to help them and their families.
Looking back so far, what has been your fondest moment in your career? My fondest moment was my very first sale; it came from an ad I ran on Facebook. A total stranger, well not anymore, purchased some items. It was a bit of a suprise because I wasn’t expecting her to spend that much money on my products to support me lol. She gave me some words of advice and encouragement that really helped me. I will never forget that moment or her words.
And where do you see yourself in 5-10 years from now? In the future I would like to open a physical store in the States and one in Senegal. Hopefully it will find me back home so I can be part of the growth and development of my country by investing in agriculture and renewable energy.
That sounds amazing man. Who would you say has been the most influential person in your life so far? My father is the biggest influence in my life. He passed away in 2012 from cancer but he pretty much taught me how to be a man, to take care of a family and how to deal with people. He was an entrepreneur himself so I’ve learned a lot from him.
How were you as a child? I was an extrovert. We used to get into a lot of trouble, me and my twin brother lol; no legal troubles though. I was just a very curious and adventurous kid.
Is Charlotte a good place for your business? As an entrepreneur, I believe Charlotte is the right place for me business wise. The city is always growing and so many opportunities are available if you knock. I’ve met a lot of people who share the same mentality and state of mind as myself. And you want to always be surrounded by people who are willing to push you further.
Last questions, what would you like people to remember about you when you’re gone? I want to be remembered as someone who is always there for people. I want to leave something that will benefit people for a very, very longtime.
Give one piece of advice that you can share with fellow Millennials In the entrepreneurship journey, it will be a lot of negative thoughts, negative people, doubts and people literally walking out your life. You can be found in a spot where you just want to give up and let your dream die. But the one thing I learned is that your environment affects your thoughts and therefore your decisions. Make sure you have a team, you cannot do anything by yourself, you’ll need help, you’ll need a mentor. I know we say it a lot but if you surround yourself with winners you’ll win. And there’s no losing only experiences gained.
Instagram: @hassan_dieme @casademansa