“W

Finweek English Edition - - ENTREPRENEUR -

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

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