Yolanda Ndhlovu, 31, shares why she co-founded an eco-friendly fashion brand that creates pieces from recycled material.
What sparked the idea to start Green Mat Designs?
I wanted to start something I could call my own that had some form of impact.
- Have you always been entrepreneurial? If not what inspired you to be a business woman?
I haven’t always been entrepreneurial but I’m glad I have friends and family who are encouraged me to follow the business path.
- Why did you branch into fashion?
I love fashion. I am a visual being .Not yet a fashion guru but I enjoy the esthetic of fashion. A lot of people just see the final product but I have always wanted to know the processes that leads to the final product.
- What sets you apart from other fashion brands?
I only focus on accessories with an eco-friendly twist. I make my accessories from design waste or repurposed material that other designers, fabric wholesalers and retailers do not want to use any more.
- How has the business been since you launched it?
It’s been growing from strength to strength. Some moments are slower than others but I am grateful for every experience.
- Who is your target market?
Women of all races and ages who love standing out. They are not used to the norm and won’t conform to it.
- What have been your highlights and challenges?
The Lionesses of Africa accelerator programme which I am part of would be my highlight. Challenges are always access to funding.
- How do you plan on expanding your brand?
I plan on expanding my brand through creating more products and getting into other markets in the region.
- From your experience, does South Africa provide a favourable environment for business owners? If not, what should be done?
Yes and no. There are platforms like the Lionesses Accelerator programmes that are great business incubators but not a lot of business owners have access to them or know about them. Access to information is still limited especially for startups. The other challenge is that local business owners have to compete with cheaper imports. Our products aren’t as cheap to produce and sell.
- What is your advice to young people who want to start and run successful businesses?
Don’t be a solopreneur! You cannot do it alone. Collaborate with or learn from those who have done it before you. Do not be afraid to network.
Connect with Yolanda on:
Facebook : www.facebook.com/ greenmatdesigns
Or email her at email@example.com