Whilst many school-leavers and graduates seek employment in the formal sector, there are as many who take the bull by the horns and become entrepreneurs. Some become entrepreneurs because they have great ideas that they yearn to develop and others from necessity as they are unable to find a job. Either way it is tough to start a business all on your own, and if you are not considering taking on a partner, remember that partnerships come in all shapes and sizes.
The Threads Project at 349 Albert Road, Woodstock launched last week. I am inspired by how these entrepreneurs are supporting one another, and also the community. They are pooling resources, skills, experiences and connections. This concept store showcases and supports South African start-ups with 10% of the business taking place in a vibey, energetic warehouse, the balance online. Each store-within-the-store is mobile, meaning that regular shoppers will always find it interesting – one week you will arrive to find art at the door, the next week it may be clothing. There is a boardroom and business hub to incubate and generate ideas. We know that good ideas become great ideas when fuelled by caffeine, so the Coffee Station at the entrance is a great place to start. Solar powered when at mobile at events, this business has found its base where it can plug in and their barista can serve gourmet coffee all week.
There is another way of keeping warm. Sexy Socks, like The Coffee Station, is also run by a law graduate. They sell more than just funky, gorgeous bamboo socks. In addition to being a natural and beautiful product, they have a heart – for every pair you buy, a pair of socks is donated to a school child in South Africa who needs to keep their toes warm – and this warmed my heart! I walked off with enough socks to fill a sock drawer, and by doing so, may just keep the front row of a classroom happy.
These emerging artisans are in a space where they can create, learn and promote the things they love making and doing, together. The mix of merchandise ranges from doggy bow ties to bikes, jewellery, fashion, art and furniture. If coffee is too hot for you, then there is coconut water.
I know how hard it is to start and build a business. Been there, done that and written about it to help others. (Raise your Profile is a self-marketing and brand book). That is, after all, what business should be – boosting the bottom line but always with a focus on building others.