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.
So today I am sharing an awesome online platform with you, that sells gorgeous locally crafted items from small businesses. Xhibit started in order to help small artists/businesses have a place to showcase and sell their items. This online store specializes in locally made items for the home like decor items, art, table clothes, as well as coffee, soaps and gorgeous accessories to wear.
Please support this wonderful online store and share with your friends!
We chatted to the lovely Marike Botha, the #girlboss behind Xhibit and she had this to say to us!
Tell us a little bit about your business?
Xhibit is a social enterprise that runs an online platform selling locally crafted goods and sharing the stories of their makers. As a creative I noticed that, though sales are moving increasingly more online, local artists often struggle to find a place to showcase and sell their talent, and building your own website often isn’t feasible. At the same time many South Africans want to shop locally and sustainably, but it’s not that accessible. Our heart isn’t to simply sell stuff, but to really connect customers with local creative businesses in a meaningful way.
What are the top 3 learnings you have had to find out the hard way since starting your own business?
Xhibit only launched in April this year – yes, right in the heart of lockdown – so I’m sure my top three will evolve over time. But for now:
1. The best way to help others is often by helping yourself (as a business). I’m very empathic and started Xhibit exactly because I wanted to support local artists and if I could I would buy all their products! I’ve had to learn to say no and act in the best interest of my enterprise, knowing that the more Xhibit grows, the more influence we will have to truly help artists grow.
2. Planning and research are two very worthwhile investments! We were grateful for the planning we did do and regretted not doing more. For example, our website was actually finished last year November already, but our artist procurement process took away longer than we thought and we ended up only launching in April. The online shop had overheads running for all those months it wasn’t open yet and if we had gone into more detail with what the procurement process would look like, we could have avoided this.
3. It’s really really really important that you believe in what you’re doing and that you have a clear vision for your business. We invested so much of ourselves into building Xhibit and lockdown happened just as we were ready to launch. It was a big knock and our entire strategy had to change. Even established businesses closed this year and here we are, just starting out, with no foundation to rely on. But at the same time we knew that small creative business like those we wanted to help had never needed the support more than now. We knew that lockdown had made our vision even more relevant. This made us even more determined to succeed, and we could hold our vision up to the light and figure out a new way to get there in this “deurmekaar” year. We would have felt very lost otherwise.
Where do you see your business in 5 years? Once we have gotten over the effects of the lock down.
Our long-term goal is to breach international markets. We believe this is the best way to support our artists and to share South Africa’s beauty. If we can find a way to anchor our business, and the local art business, in an international economy, our creative industry will have much more stability!
What is your advice to ladies out there wanting to start their own businesses but are too scared?
I’ve mentioned this already, but you have to believe that what you’ll be doing matters (even if it only matters to you). Because it will be hard and sometimes the negatives may seem to outweigh the positives and then having a goal to look forward to will keep you going and one day you’ll be glad you did!
Secondly, get a mentor! Women are awesome like that. We’re all looking out for each other. If you don’t already have a close relationship with a business owner you look up to, find someone online and just ask. It’s made the world of difference to me.
And lastly: there’s’ a really big support network out there for females who want to start their own business. I attended two amazing startup courses last year, both externally sponsored, and even today my inbox is littered with free webinars and summits for women in business. If you don’t feel you have what it takes, use opportunities like these to equip yourself and build your network.
Tell us 2 things that are the BEST part about owning your own business and make it all worth while?
1. FREEEEDOOOOMM! And I don’t just mean being able to work when I want and take those hypothetical long holidays (totally not the case if you’re a small business owner). I mean being able to make real decisions and actually follow your passion and the only permission you need is from your bank account.
2. Doing something you’re proud of. I made the Xhibit website myself (with no prior experience) and after all that sweat and tears and coffee I spent about a week scrolling through the site and just admiring how the hard work had come to life. It’s so worth it.