Selling a lifestyle Freedom of Movement doesn’t see itself as merely a fashion brand, but as a lifestyle brand aimed at designing and developing timeless and authentic products of the highest quality.
when they founded the proudly South African brand, Freedom of Movement (FOM), brothers Léan and Roal Boezaart not only wanted to create a unique and authentic brand, but they also resolved to boost the local economy through job creation and skill empowerment.
FOM, established in 2013, specialises in the development, design and manufacturing of premium leather products, timepieces, clothing and accessories and enjoys a loyal base of brand followers.
finweek caught up with Léan to find out more about the brand and the brothers’ plans going forward.
What did you do prior to starting your own business?
I qualified as a chartered accountant in 2011 and worked at Deloitte in Cape Town. I play professional golf as well, and played on the Sunshine Tour before starting the business with Roal in 2013. Roal qualified as a civil engineer at Stellenbosch University in 2013. While he was studying at Stellenbosch, Roal discovered a real passion for the design of clothing and ended up supplying clothing (mainly hoodies and T-shirts) to some of the university residences in Stellenbosch. Roal then approached myself and our other brother Marcel with the idea of starting his own brand.
Clothing turned out to be very tricky (especially if you want to manufacture in South Africa) and we decided to start with a product that embraced quality and timeless characteristics, and would work well with the establishment of a premium brand.
What motivated you to turn it into a business?
We grew up in a house of four boys and during our upbringing our father always used to emphasise the importance of being your own boss. We all had serious dreams and aspirations to become famous sportsmen and I guess the idea of “creating your own legacy” formed a fire in our make-up. All we needed was a spark. We spent the first two months making prototypes in a small room that was provided to us by the LaunchLab, which is a mix-used business incubator at Stellenbosch University. We had one machine and one leather worker by the name of Benjamin. Benjamin was a true artisan and developed one of our very first products that we named after him – The Benjamin. The first Benjamin briefcase, was bought by D’Niel Strauss, who is now, interestingly enough, married to former Miss World Rolene Strauss.
How did you get funding to get started?
We were entirely self-funded. We started FOM with a mere R100 000. We used all of our savings and a little extra from our brother, Marcel, who bought a small equity stake in the business. From there, we grew FOM organically to where it is today.
Where do you manufacture your products?
At our own factory in Stellenbosch. We have
Roal Boezaart (left) and Léan Boezaart (right) launched Freedom of Movement in 2013. To the left is Freedom of Movement’s new store in the Mall of Africa in Midrand.