Boost for local children’s industry entrepreneurs

2016-03-30 06:00
Kids Emporium Baywest Mall franchisee Charlene Bower shows off some unique designs by Bay entrepreneur Sarah Massey-Hicks, creator of the popular Myang brand (in her right hand), as well as by the fashionable Somerset West company, Home Grown Africa. Photo: SUPPLIED

Kids Emporium Baywest Mall franchisee Charlene Bower shows off some unique designs by Bay entrepreneur Sarah Massey-Hicks, creator of the popular Myang brand (in her right hand), as well as by the fashionable Somerset West company, Home Grown Africa. Photo: SUPPLIED

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A CHILDREN’S store new to the Eastern Cape is giving local design entrepreneurs the launchpad of a lifetime by highlighting unique creations and showcasing them nationally and internationally.

National franchise Kids Emporium, which has opened its first Eastern Cape store at Baywest Mall, searches for stock for its stores countrywide – and soon in the UK – by tapping into the design smarts of children’s industry entrepreneurs in the communities they operate in.

Rachel Nieuwoudt is one of the city’s creatives whose kids’ decor range – which includes chalkboards, lighting and personalised signs – got its first major national break this year thanks to Kids Emporium.

The store also proudly boasts the stock of PE-based Sarah Massey-Hicks, creator of the popular Myang brand of baby and toddler shoes.

Franchisee Charlene Bower said supporting local design and fellow entrepreneurs through the Baywest Mall Kids Emporium store were her twin passions.

The outlet stocks a range of innovative mother and baby product lines – from custom-built furniture to travel systems designed to European safety standards, organic bath and skincare products, maternity wear, decor, BPA-free bottles, and feeding utensils.

“We have such great design talent in South Africa that a lot of people never get to hear about. Getting your name out there can be quite difficult – as a designer I know how trying it can be,” said Bower, who was one of 10 young entrepreneurs chosen to exhibit at the Kamers Vol Geskenke craft fair in Cape Town in 2012.

Since then, Bower’s own career path has meandered from teaching children with special needs to financial management in the motor industry. But, she said, all these disparate experiences had been pulled together and found their perfect expression in running the Kids Emporium store.

The 30-year-old said PE boasted as much talent as the larger centres, but getting the right kind of exposure was often difficult.

Despite this, a number of local creatives had made it big, said Bower, including Massey-Hicks and, hopefully one day, Nieuwoudt too.

Bower said supplying to the large and established Kids Emporium group – with 26 stores nationwide and the first UK outlet launching soon – provided a great distribution network for premium quality, locally made products.

Nieuwoudt, who came up with innovative children’s decor, went through a round of negotiations about her products and their pricing before being added as a listed supplier with the group.

“The store owners now get in touch with me and order whatever they need. We have orders pending for the UK branch too – it’s very scary but cool,” she said.

Aside from the high demand for stock from these stores, Niewoudt said, she – with help from her husband – was also kept busy with custom-made orders from the local market.

“We produce 100% unique products. We don’t copy, and we come up with our own designs and then produce the goods,” she said.

Bower said Kids Emporium tended to favour handcrafted, more natural products that offered simple, clever solutions to everyday struggles that parents face.

“We’ve found that moms across all income groups want the best for their babies. So while many might not buy the luxuries, they do invest in items like safe and natural teething products, good-quality bottles and medical-grade silicone latching spoons to help the transition to solid foods.

“Head office researches and tests all products before they enter stores to ensure that they are of the highest quality at an affordable price.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to good design and great quality and this is something that can easily be achieved if you concentrate on your workmanship and craft.”

Aside from the designers themselves, Bower said involvement in the Kids Emporium brand also ensured sustainable job creation for their small teams of seamstresses and workers.

“I believe we’re building something for those people and their children too, and I hope to be able to contribute largely in building this network.”

According to founder Lauren de Swardt, 70% of the goods available via the UK master franchise in Guildford, Surrey, will be manufactured in South Africa.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.