For reader Scelo Ndlovu moving his fashion business from his parent’s backroom to downtown office space was his Signature Moment.
“I am a self-taught fashion designer. I learnt everything I know about fashion design myself from designing patterns to sketches to making the actual clothing item – self-taught. I used YouTube to learn about fashion, and the different machines used to sew clothes,” says Scelo Ndlovu, a 29-year-old entrepreneur from Hammarsdale in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ndlovu started to make his lifelong love of fashion a career in 2013, when he started small in his parent’s backroom. Today his label, ELE Brave, has a home on Durban’s Anton Lembede Street.“I always wanted to be in fashion. I have always been a ‘fashionista’. I used to modify my clothes a lot so that I look trendy. My love for fashion is deeply embedded in my DNA and has been from a young age.”
While for many people having a passion is easy, translating it into a business is the tricky part. However, Ndlovu remained focused. Having taught himself the skills, he also had to make sure he had the fiscal responsibility required to make his passion into a viable entrepreneurial business.
“I learned that to make money you need to be unique. To come up with something that has not been innovated before and to be creative. Also, you will attract money through your work ethic and I also learnt that I needed to save and reinvest money into my craft, which is my business.”
From humble beginnings, selling his first designs to his friends in Mpumalanga Township, he took that money and reinvested it in his business.
He started to buy sewing machines as well as material in different colours and textures as well as a label printer, threads, packaging and a laptop to start professionalising his business bit by bit, in much the same way as he did his very first one-of-a-kind piece of clothing.
“I made a brown fur jacket that was one of kind, I can proudly say that it is a masterpiece,” he says, remembering the first item he made using the skills he had deliberately developed through determination and hard work.
Ndlovu’s new office space wasn’t easy to come by and he had to plan and save to make it happen. A lot like making his passion into a business, he focused on what was required and worked towards getting it.
“I saved enough money to afford the deposit for a rental space in Durban’s CBD and a few months rent. I have an existing client base for my brand, and I was able to access other target markets in town that really helped a lot so that I could continue to afford to pay rent.” And it has worked, he’s been in his current premises since 2015. While, for now he’s a sole operator, he does bring in freelancers during busy periods.
As for the future, unsurprisingly Ndlovu has big plans and is already putting them into motion. “My future plan for my business is to open a huge factory and get my brand stocked in major retailers such as Truworths, Markham and Woolworths. I am already in the process of applying for shelf space with one of the clothing retailers so they can stock my clothes in their stores across South Africa.”
Once he’s achieved these milestones, he says that what he’d really like to see is his own fashion boutique – called ELE Brave – in malls across the country.
His brand’s name means tough, “which is symbolic of my humble beginnings as a young entrepreneur”, he says.
While he’s sketching the next part of his own success story, he says would be entrepreneurs must chase their dreams too. “Never give up believing in your dream. Work towards achieving your goals and do not let anyone tell you it’s not possible. If you can dream it, mostly definitely it can turn into reality.”
It can be.
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This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by Standard Bank.