I have decided to start a series of interviews with Business Owners in South Africa; to get to know them and find out what’s out there in the South African market.
My first interview is with Robyn Britz, co – owner of Zana Products, where she describes the business and amazing products that is offered online . See below what Robyn has to say.
Photograph attached by Lindie Meyer http://lindiemeyer.co.za
Describe your business?
We like to describe what we do at Zana as ‘handmade lifestyle.’ We are constantly evolving and widening our product range. We started off as an online store selling fun and graphic cushions and now we fabric, pouches, bags and a wide variety of other goods. Everything we do is dreamed up and made in Cape Town by our team and we really value this hands on approach.
Where did the idea for your business come from and what were the initial steps that you took to start your business?
Sue, the other co-founder of Zana, has many years experience in the printing and production industry and I have experience in design and development. This really aided us in starting Zana as we didn’t need too many outside connections to get off the ground. I did the design of the goods, Sue had them printed and sewed them up herself and then in order to sell I built our ecommerce store for local sales and setup and Etsy store for international sales. When we started my focus was on bring cool international trends to the local market a bit quicker.
How did you obtain investors or sponsors for your venture?
Sue’s separate print business lent us R5000 in the early days which we quickly paid back and we have been working off of our own profit since. I am hoping to look for larger investment possibly in the future, you realise as time goes on that a boost in cash flow can really help a small business upscale.
What motivates you?
I would say the small things. I love my job and it doesn’t even feel like a job. I feel like I am constantly working on a fun college project. But it is not always all fun and games so hearing from our customers is always really positive for me. I love receiving tweets from people complimenting us, our mailers, our customer service etc. That is what really reminds me we have something good going.
How do you define success?
Knowing that you have done your best work and being happy.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My parents have always encouraged me to have my own business and I would definitely consider them as my greatest inspirations.
To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key? Elements for starting and running a successful business?
You have to be innovative and come up with an idea that is going to make people want to give you their hard earned money for. 2.) You have to be able to take a risk, being an entrepreneur takes financial risk and you might have (many) months when you can’t pay yourself. You have to be okay with that and not let it shake you. 3.) You have to understand that you will have to work harder than everyone around you, if you don’t work, your business doesn’t work, simple as that. 4.) You have to be able to adapt. When something doesn’t work, be willing to change it and go where your customers are guiding you. I do think that it is important to stick to your guns on certain things but you have to be willing to let a few go. 5.) Fake it until you make it. Even when you are a small fry business, reply to every email, answer wholesale queries with professionalism. Act bigger than you are and people will think you are bigger than you are, they will phone you for big opportunities because they won’t think ‘oh they are like a part time, too small thing to handle it.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I don’t have a milestone that I can think of but I love the Christmas season as this is the time where our business thrives and we really get to see it at full capacity.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made and how have you learnt from them?
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I am a bit of a work-a-holic. Like this interview I answer on a Sunday over lunch. Other than that I love to omnibus series. Right now I am loving The Good Wife, Homeland, Downton Abbey. I also enjoy some light reading.
What makes you happy?
Hanging out in the studio with the Zana girls as we often run off to shoot fun recipes and sip coffee at the Biscuit Mill. I also enjoy sitting in the sun and drinking cocktails.
Your philosophy is?
Work hard and be nice to people.
Any advice for anyone who wants to start their own business?
Stop and be realistic about your idea, be willing to adapt and most importantly don’t give up when things get hard!
Check out their website for gorgeous items. www.zanaproducts.co.za