e made one dress and sold i t . ” That is how K hu le Mxotshwa explains how he and his partner Danisa Mike Nyirenda started their clothing business Bow Afrika Fashion with virtually no funds last year.
Originally Mxothswa, who holds a master’s degree i n screenwriting and directing, and Nyirenda, who has a background in acting as well as designing promotional clothing for corporates, teamed up with three others to start a business, but after two months, their partners had changed their minds and abandoned the f ledgling venture. Despite this setback, the two were still determined to come up with a business plan that would sustain them, and neither music nor acting seemed viable at the time.
“We decided to start with fashion first because it’s something that we can make and sell,” Nyirenda explains. And sell they would. In March 2013, they arranged a photo shoot featuring their designs and that momentous first sale followed shortly thereafter. Then word of mouth began to spread with blistering speed, and Bow Afrika began to at t ract attention on social media. Soon, orders for the duo’s vibrant clothing – which sells for between R500 and R800 – began f lying in.
Since its creation in March last year, their Facebook page has garnered close to 99 000 likes. They also attracted customers from outside South Africa – not only from neighbouring countries but from as far afield as Madagascar, Australia, the UK and US. Today, Bow Afrika receives about 10 orders a week from customers abroad.
Aside from the traction the brand gained on social media, another factor that led to their business’s success, head designer Nyirenda believes, is the “face of Bow”, who brings their designs to life. Nandipha Spencer is an erstwhile customer-turned-model who appears in all the label’s promotional material.
“Sometimes a customer will see a certain item in the shop, but she won’t buy it. But then she’ll see that same dress on her [Spencer], and come back to buy