Lifestyle store for youth opens

MK LIfestyle’s Siyabulela Sophi and Simphiwe Tabata at their new store in Makhaza. PHOTO: Mawande Sobethwa
MK LIfestyle’s Siyabulela Sophi and Simphiwe Tabata at their new store in Makhaza. PHOTO: Mawande Sobethwa

Khayelitsha’s newest clothing store aspires to be more than just a retailer but a social interaction platform to educate.

The Makhaza Lifestyle shop, tucked in Cebula Street off Fukutha Road sells caps, hoddies and t-shirts, but also offers a meeting space within.

This is the brain child of innovative social entrepreneurs Siyabulela Sophi,27, and Simphiwe Tabata,26, who, apart from DJying, also run dialogue sessions to empower youngsters in the area as well as career expos for high school learners.

Sophi said the shop was more than just an extension of their business but an opportunity to grow other businesses.

“The idea of this shop is to do more than sell clothes but to create a space where other young entrepreneurs can come have their meeting, learn something new as we are also planning to put canvases of struggle heroes on the walls.

At the core of our business is street wear, so our activities is selling the items because we want locals to access street wear within their communities,” said Sophi.

He said that before starting their clothing business a few years ago, they discovered that a lot of youngsters who were interested in cool clothing usually bought clothes at large chain stores and had little connection with the makers.

“People bought clothes without really knowing who designs or makes the clothes and we figured they would like to buy from people they know,” he said.

His popularity as a DJ has helped him push sales but circumstances forced him and his business partner to be innovative.

“We started off by hosting parties in our area and every time there was an event we will hear stories of kids stabbing each other in and around the event. We realised that we are actually compounding the problems in our neighbourhood so we decided to do things differently,” he said.

The duo then started hosting dialogues and career expos. Sophi says that they will continue to be innovative as it is an important part of their business.

“We are very happy that people have responded positively to the store. Many of our clients are from other provinces but we also have a strong client base locally which we deliver to for free. We have guys who ride bicycles to drop off to clients.

We also have a piggy bank system where a client can pass and drop some change on his piggy bank and when it is enough he can buy himself an item from the shop,” he said.

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