With an honours BCom degree, Nobesuthu started her career in the banking industry, working as a business analyst, project manager, product development manager and CRM manager. Having been part of her father’s ‘free labour’ team during her school holidays in her youth, she was naturally inclined to become an entrepreneur, and kick-started the journey with a business course at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. Soon after, she teamed up with her business partner, Nhlanhla Ndlovu, to create a platform that would propel South African designer wear forward. Enter Burgundy Fly boutiques. Their first store opened in 2008, in Maponya Mall, Soweto. Now, their boutiques are in four other locations around Johannesburg, including the Zone at Rosebank Mall, and they were voted ‘Best Emporium Supporting Local Production’ by Flux Trends and Marie Claire. As a platform to showcase local talent, their shelves stock the likes of Thula Sindi, Leigh Schubert and Grapevine. Their goal? To ensure that South African designers are able to make a sustainable living from their love and talent. Visit Burgundyfly.co.za.
On Initial Concerns:
We started the business without any retail background, but applying the lessons learned from our IT fraternity, we set up a process and systems to effectively manage the operations of the business. The business we are in is a relationship-based business. Coming from corporate, where matters are concluded via meetings and minutes, building relationships with our suppliers in art and design required a different mindset and approach. We also knew that the business needed to expand its footprint, and our initial challenge was finding and securing space in reputable malls.
On Learning Lessons:
I am a real introvert and really do get motivation and energy from spending time with myself. This journey has shown me that.
On Advice For Other Entrepreneurs:
Save save save! Save as much money as possible to enable the business to expand without having to get into debt. Pay yourself first always – there will always be a reason why you should pay other people first, but if you don’t, you will quickly get disheartened. Make sure you spend 50% of your time with your customers and 50% of your time with your staff. First-hand information about your customers is crucial, and your staff motivation is the lifeblood of your company.