So as you all know I love to support local and started a segment where we could share, learn and inspire! It is so important to support local and share your findings with others.
During lock down, we are going to do a whole lot of these to highlight these businesses – many of which are taking HUGE strain during this time – and shed some awareness and love to all.
I was in total awe when I found today’s local business called Philippa French, and I am sure you are too looking at these gorgeous earrings, cuffs, bracelets and necklaces! So stunning and the best part? Made locally in KZN by crafters who are supporting their families and extended families through the making of these gorgeous pieces. I mean the Frida ones are just stunning! And the Van Gogh and Monet inspired ones are just WOW! There is something for everyone.
This local business was started by Philippa Yorke-Smith, who started this business to empower and uplift others by creating wearable works of art, using only the best quality Czech glass beads. Let’s see what Philippa had to say!
Tell us a little bit about your business.
The sense of community amongst the artisans is enormous, and every order helps to benefit these incredibly worthy individuals, of all ages. Our team all work together to fulfill their mutual dream of opening stores worldwide one day, via the concept of “fashion thorough philanthropy.”
What are the top 3 learnings you have had to find out the hard way since starting your own business?
• Not everyone will support you, you have to be your own emotional, mental and physical supporter, even when you feel you cannot continue/its too hard.
Most customers are lovely, but some are not, and when there are those “nasties” who attack (the “haters”), you have to really put your effort into pulling yourself back from that negativity, focus on what your ultimate goal is, dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and carry on.
• As an entrepreneur, it is often very hard – you work extreme hours, your business is always open (it has to be), and you are constantly juggling cash flow coming in versus cash flow needing to go out to pay the suppliers who make your business possible. It is an ever going up and down of funds in and funds out – one of the most stressful things I have ever been through.
• Marketing – I have had to spend hours upon hours upon hours, upon days, upon weeks making my business and more importantly, my cause, “visible” to a world that I know will benefit from my business, because people benefit, actually known to companies and individuals alike. I cannot even add up the number of businesses I have researched, found them to be a good fit to supply, spent time approaching them in a personal way, only to get either 1) no reply at all – despite numerous follow ups or 2) a “no thanks, not interested.”
It is absolutely debilitating at times, but still, as an entrepreneur, this is what you chose (you tell yourself), so again, for you, for your people who believe in you, you have only only choice – carry on.
Eventually you get to that pleace where someone says “okay, let’s give you a try, please send me some samples”, that leads to customer orders – those are happy days!
Where do you see your business in 5 years? Once we have gotten over the effects of the lock down.
That is an easy one! In five years time, my team and I (Nkulu, Tholo and myself) would have grown the business together to such a point that we will be opening, or have opened, our first “Philippa French” store in Saint Germain, Paris – bringing our bespoke, beautiful beaded accessories to the fashion capital of the world.
What is your advice to individuals out there wanting to start their own businesses but are too scared?
Take the plunge and find your wings as you go along – follow your joy, do not be discouraged, no matter how hard it gets.
Tell us 2 things that are the BEST part about owning your own business and make it all worth while?
• The joy I see in my team’s faces when orders come in; watching my beaders grow and be able to provide for their families, watching my head beader’s house be built, and a water tank be installed for her, so that the twice daily trip to fetch water with a wheelbarrow and a bucket will come to an end.
• The absolute raw joy I feel when I work with beads, when I go to the traders in downtown Durban with my team, when I choose colours, and when I see them transformed into beautiful items that land up on peoples ears, necks and wrists and I see the happiness in my customer’s eyes when they see their products, and the elation in my beader’s eyes when they know that “yes, we did that.”
How has lock down affected you and your team?
Lockdown was very hard in that the traders were closed and we could not source beads; once the beads we had ran out, we had no way to make up orders.
We had to manage customer expectations in terms of endless delays as the lockdown was extended – it was hard for all of us.
The delays at the post office have been hugely costly, and they are still not fully open to all services; I also had several items that went missing (sent before lock down, then disappearing without a trace) that I have had to re-make, and will have to re-send using private courier services – this is has cost the business hugely financially.
Still, it is a lesson learnt, and if I learn from the lesson, which I have, then it has been worth it.
E-mail for more info or to place your orders: firstname.lastname@example.org
We rise by lifting others – fashion through philanthropy.