Photo Credit: Cabana Café
Meet Hussain Salis: The 27-Year-Old Behind Kano, Nigeria's Cabana Café
Hussain Salis is the owner of Cabana Café. The 27-year-old was born and raised in Nigeria and worked various different jobs before embarking on his entrepreneurial journey. Ten years ago, as a teen full of ideas and ambitions, Hussain worked as a barber, waiter, sales attendant, and later, a teacher, despite his father’s disapproval.
“My father never welcomed the idea of me going out to work or look for my own money in the first place,” said Hussain to Travel Noire. “He wanted me to take the traditional route of going to school. I just didn’t like the idea of not growing beyond generational wealth, but that did not stop me at all.”
Hussain continued working to make his own way, even doing laundry for foreigners just to save extra money. Eventually, he had saved up enough to open his first business in 2014— a small restaurant offering quick bites and drinks. Six months later, however, his father forced him to shut it down.
“He kept ranting that a restaurant business isn’t for a man. In our society, food businesses are seen as being something for women only, and it went against what he wanted for me, so he did not support it.”
During a trip to China in 2019, Hussain found himself once again inspired. Visiting cafes and tea shops in Chongcing and Nanjing, he envisioned bringing something similar to Nigeria. As he continued traveling, he began getting motivated seeing the accomplishments of hardworking entrepreneurs from different parts of the world.
He soon opened the Cabana Café. The café was the first café of its kind in the northern Nigerian city of Kano, the country’s second-largest city after Lagos. Cabana Café quickly became a hit with the local community. A cute, French-style café designed with a classic and artistic aesthetic, it serves pastries and desserts like cakes, cookies, and croissants, as well as beverages including coffees, teas, lattes, matcha, cappuccinos, hot chocolate, and more.
“We offer a warm and cozy atmosphere in which customers can have all the attention they need. The ambiance will remind you of cafés in Paris, Italy, or Morocco. Our customers’ menu favorites are the lemon iced tea and our bestselling Cabana bread.”
Along with Cabana Cafe, Hussain now has several businesses under the Cabana/Red Cabana umbrella through which he is able to earn multiple streams of income. Red Cabana Boutique offers items such as clothing, shoes, perfumes, handbags, and luggage. Red Cabana Interior provides a curated collection of home furnishings, lighting, rugs, curtains, art, and accessories. And the upcoming Cabana Culture art gallery will offer works of art created by artists from various parts of Africa and beyond.
“Cabana and Red Cabana concept stores are about discovery and experience. So our products and designs tend to change regularly to keep telling that story in new and interesting ways. What I do today is a dream come true. I hope my story inspires someone.”
You can follow Cabana Café at @cabana_cafe_ng.