Ms Nomathemba Primrose Ndebele is a Zimbabwean born fashion entrepreneur, blogger and women development activist who runs a high-end clothing retail, POSH, which is located in Harare.
Makamba Online had a chat with the endowed businesswoman in Zimbabwe. Our chat focused on the clothes retail business, starting a business in Africa and establishing a brand regardless of a wobbly economy.
POSH provides the best of women luxury clothing in Zimbabwe and it is an online store that helps selling and shipping their apparel to the rest of Africa.
So, what does this young entrepreneurial lady do? We asked Ms Ndebele about the core functions of POSH as a business unit.
Nomathemba said: “POSH is a one stop retail-manufacturer clothing retail store catering for the classy African woman who wants to make a bold statement in public, office and at social events. Our core function is retailing, we are also manufacturers of customized garments, that is, ‘edge and elegant wear’ for individuals and corporate organisations. We are currently working with a team of talented young designers and working towards a sustainable manufacturing department that will fully feed into our retail section.”
Passion is mostly the one thing that drives people to start businesses. Same applies here, Ms Nomathemba Ndebele loves the style, the smart and the confidence that comes with good clothes.
She said: “Do what you love the most and you will never have to work for the rest of your life. My greatest inspiration is to do something I love the most. Having money cannot be a primary motivation. Having been in the industry for the past decade (as an employee for a major retail boutique), the joy and confidence women had after I styled them brought such inner gratification.
“I knew one day I would start my own brand and do it for the rest of my life. As Women Development Activist I, have been able to create employment through POSH directly and indirectly to young women, from models carrying our brand, to designers. When I started the business women empowerment and upliftment was also one of my major aspirations.”
Ms Ndebele reckons a big challenge to African businesses is the flooding of bogus products on the continent which pose as stiff competition to local businesses.
“Our team has had to work very hard to prove to our clients that the quality of our merchandise is superior. We are happy that our biggest marketing tool has been the previous customers themselves who carry our brand every day,” she told Makamba Online.
Establishing a brand in the market
“I would say three things: determination, exceptional client service and hard work,” POSH founder said.
She said fashion retail industry is a very competitive industry, giving an example that every 300 metres you walk in any town chances are you will find someone selling clothes.
- Believe in your brand and be determined to see it grow.
- Give clients an unmatched service.
- More importantly through hard work, develop a sustainable business model.
- Be willing to research and keep abreast of trends to suite the ever-changing business environment and customer needs.
- Travelling has helped our brand. We have been fortunate enough to go on shopping trips to major fashion capitals such as New York, Dubai, Instabul, Paris, Johannesburg and Cape Town all in search for specific wardrobe for our VIP clients and it has continued to be one of our major revenue streams.
Business in Africa
Talking about growth and doing business in Africa Nomathemba said: “We actually currently have a huge percentage of our revenue coming from other parts of the continent an overseas through the use of digital media after setting up an online shop and mobile application.
“This has given women from across the continent access to our amazing collection and we ship to any part of the world 24 hours after a client places an order. Our social media presence has made it easier as well to reach out to other markets that we can’t be physically at the present moment.
“However, we are doing feasibility and market research studies and research to open branches in other African capitals and we would appreciate linking with other African fashion entrepreneurs or investors who could be interested in bringing our business model to their country under the POSH brand.”
Business and profit
“We have three main revenue streams: in store retail, manufacturing and VIP personal shopping,” Ms Ndebele said.
She added: “The retail section imports and resells various trend setting wear whilst the manufacturing wing makes customized wear for individuals and corporates. VIP personal shopping and styling division attends to specific needs for the busy African executive who might not have the time to go around shopping and they trust us with that responsibility to make sure we get them a befitting wardrobe.”
The current economy
She said: “Setting up a business in the current economy takes a lot due to liquidity and lack of excess spending cash among the potential clients. Luxury clothing becomes one of the last necessities in such an environment. As POSH we strategized towards building a brand for a niche loyal market of ‘quality rather than quantity’. We also refined our business model to offer different services which has been essential in our profitability. We get to make international sales that are not affected by our country of operation.”
Shopping at POSH is like shopping with one of your girlfriends, it’s fun and eventful and shoppers always look forward to coming back. For international customers POSH do Skype meetings to ascertain their needs. Once the order has been placed they ship and deliver within 72 hours in Africa.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro