Fashion forward

2014-01-17 11:00

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Sandi Mabasa (33) started her own clothing line while working full-time, then took a leap of faith and quit her day job

The beginning

I’ve always loved fashion but was frustrated because I couldn’t ever find the type of clothes I liked in local shops.

While working full-time as a PA I signed up for sewing classes and started making my own clothes.

That was two years ago, and friends started asking me to design things for them too.

Word quickly spread and I hired a seamstress to keep up with the demand.

She worked from my house while I went to the office, and I used to go fabric shopping during my lunch break.

Eventually I decided to take a leap of faith and quit my job to focus on my business full-time.

The funding

I started by using the deposits customers paid me to buy whatever fabric I needed.

As orders grew, I was able to keep fabric in stock and had money for salaries.

It wasn’t an easy process and it still isn’t. Money is the main reason people get discouraged in business.

There are days when I feel overwhelmed but I have no intention of giving up.

I take things one day at a time and make sure I’m disciplined with money for the business.

My husband [businessman and motivational speaker Romeo Mabasa] is very supportive and encourages me to pursue my dream.

The name 

Fabro is a combination of the words fabulous and royal and Sanz is short for Sandi.

I believe women deserve to feel like queens when they go out.

I make clothes that make people feel like royalty – that’s a huge accomplishment for me.

The growth 

Many creatives get caught up in the artistic process but I keep focused on the business aspect of my company.

I also never underestimate the power of marketing and I’ve aligned my brand with people who’ve helped it grow.

I dress and style DJ Zinhle for shoots and TV appearances because she likes my clothes.

Many people see her in my garments and I get a lot of enquiries.

Because I style her, I get opportunities to do styling for commercials and magazines, which has opened up a whole new section for my business.

I also take full advantage of social media and a large portion of my business comes from there.

I don’t use Instagram to be cool, I use it to promote my business and it’s working very well.

 My biggest business lessons learnt

• It’s vital to have a proper business plan. I didn’t have one initially and it worked against me. Your brand can be everywhere but without a proper plan your business can’t grow.

• Understand your business and your market. I’ve learnt my brand is not for everyone, so I work hard at marketing and appealing to the right people instead of trying to influence those who’ll never be interested.

• Don’t take things too personally. Expecting your loved ones to be your biggest customers doesn’t always end well. Business isn’t about catering to friends as much as it is about catering to clients. Once you’ve created boundaries, your business can really thrive.

• It takes hard work and dedication. People think fashion is glamorous, but it isn’t. I’m still waiting for my days to be like Kimora’s Life in the Fab Lane – but I don’t think that will ever happen!

My advice for entrepreneurs

Make sure you’re passionate and committed. Also, don’t rely on other people to make your dreams come true. Do as much as you can yourself, even if you start off really small.

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