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 am so excited to share this local brand with you – There and Back! Their products are designed locally – each print is designed by young South African textile designers! You will not find more beautiful and unique items, I can assure you. Their suitcase covers are my absolute favourite, I just love the bright colours and patterns, they are a piece of art in themselves!

What do they make?

  • Durable, Washable & Reusable Protective Suitcase Covers
  • Comfortable and Cool Travel Pillows
  • Protective and Pretty Wine Carriers
  • Fashionable Traveling Accessories Totes and Scarves
  • Sizeable and Fashionable Blankets

Please check out their online store here. And please follow them on Instagram – they would appreciate the love!

We chatted to the lovely Pilani about There and Back and she had this to say!

Tell us a little bit about your business.

We locally design, make and sell travel accessories: luggage covers, neck pillows, tote bags, buffs and masks. The suitcase covers are designed to offer an alternative to the plastic wrapping of luggage and in doing so reducing the amount of plastic going to waste. The suitcase covers also protect the customers’ bags and through the unique designs used give the customer an easy way to recognise the luggage when it arrives at the destination. These are products used to enhance the travel experience, giving the traveller more comfort and security.

We are three women, in partnership – myself Pilani Bubu, and my partners Nicola Valentine and Sandra Rogers. Each coming from various backgrouds and careers. We share the load of whatever needs to be done to progress the business.

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What are the top 3 learnings you have had to find out the hard way since starting your own business?

1.Simply identifying a great need, providing a solution and locating the ideal place of distribution is not enough to secure a meeting place for your prospective customers.

Building relationships with the door keepers at that meeting point has been our biggest challenge. It makes sense for us to be at all airports, however it has not been easy to secure a place to trade in those spaces.

2.Visibility and Awareness of our brand and product starts at a community level, no matter how expansive your vision (global or local). We have made more sales at neighbourhood markets than online or at pop up retail stores.

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3.Forget about a break even analysis at year 1 or even year 2. There is so much more to invest it when it comes to marketing products – from the merchandising & POS units to the fees required to showcase or pop up at markets and the staffing. We had to plan as we go, we never accounted for a model where operations were so mobile and illusive. We wanted one station, and distribution at our biggest market – airports. Instead we got collaborative share of space with various retailers (that is multiple merchandise and POS units needed) and pop shops at markets, meant styling and purchasing displays and décor for every endeavour, some which may happen on the same weekend. And a bigger investment of our time and presence.

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Where do you see your business in 5 years? Once we have gotten over the effects of the lock down.

We would love to have a retail store closer to our core target market – at airports.
We are looking to expand into designing and manufacturing at a mass for the corporate gifting space as well as other traveling brands

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What is your advice to individuals out there wanting to start their own businesses but are too scared?

Collaborating is great company! If you are scared, find other people of differing strengths that you can partner with. Share the load or share expertise.

Remember that you are already the best investment to your business. You are the fundamental resource. Your best investment is you. Don’t worry about capital, there are ways that your passion, can and ambition will progress you. Start with yourself and Do It Yourself.

Tell us 2 things that are the BEST part about owning your own business and make it all worthwhile?

  • It will always be the choice of managing one owns time.
  • The thrill of turning nothing into something.
  • And being in control of how much money you make, based on how hard you work.

How has lock down affected you and your team?

It put a pause on travel which is our fundamental market.

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We have had to make an effort to meet and pivot the business within the necessities of the Covid economy. Of which, we have managed to pivot and start making buffs and masks in our print. It has taken our differing skills sets and drive to make that happen. Everyone runs where they are strong or where they have capacity. Sandra is passionate about design and making ideas come to life, combined with fashion. Nicola enjoys operations and piecing the manufacturing wheel together, running around from supplier to supplier.

I am passionate about marketing, brand, visibility and seeding concepts with customers or potential retail partners, but I also lean into the finance side of the business, the accounting, thorough checking of spend, our books and how we progress within review of what we have and what we want… and throwing caution to the win most times lol.

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