It always gives us great joy to celebrate talented young people in the fashion industry. Today we speak to Lize Engelbrecht, owner of WOW, a clothing boutique in Stellenbosch. We met Lize when she came to deliver a guest talk at the close of our first year business studies module.Lize has always had an interest in both the creative and business fields and completed a BComm Managerial Sciences at Stellenbosch University, which would equip her to start her own business in whatever creative field she chose. Being a dreamer, Lize became easily bored by most creative directions, with one exception – fashion.
Today we catch up with her to find out more about a career as a fashion entrepreneur.
1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself and WOW Boutique?
I have always had a passion for the fashion industry and business, so after studying toward a BComm and gaining two years of work experience, I decided to start my own business. It was challenging at times but after a year of waiting for everything to fall in place, we opened our doors on the 9th of November 2010. The concept I wanted to bring to life was that of giving young talented SA designers a platform to move into the fashion industry and to build their brand. I wanted fresh designs and exclusive items of exceptional quality. We currently stock Non-European Casual Wear, Couture Evening Wear by Stephano, underwear and swimwear by Baie Nice and Bags by The Wren Design, Beau and Nannah. We also stock handmade leather shoes made by Diomande which are also available custom-made on order. Our jewellery designers are Jeanie Elliott and Stacy Adriaans, and we stock accessories by Fie & Feen, Hallo Poppie, Petatie and Green Pastures.
2) In your opinion, as a fashion business owner, how does a business module prepare fashion students for life after graduation?
I think it definitely opens their minds to connect fashion and creativity with business. Being creative only tgakes a designer half way – you still have to understand your market and effectively manage costs and long term goals in order to build a sustainable business.
3) Do you have any advice to young fashion entrepreneurs?
I want to encourage all young fashion entrepreneurs to dream big. Your dream will be your vision and the inspiration that you will most definitely have to fight for when you go into the business world. That said – having to fight for something only makes you love it more.
There will always be more to learn and even though you might doubt yourself starting out, decide to believe in yourself and continually use your environment to learn and build on your expertise. Business is always risky, so surround yourself with experienced people who can support you.
4) What are some of the opportunities for young fashion entrepreneurs in the South African fashion industry?
In the SA fashion industry, as in almost every industry there are always challenges, but also opportunities to be spotted and to be created. I especially find in SA that there are so many suppliers from Asia that the market is looking for something fresh from local designers. South African fashionistas feel proudly connected to local products, while tourists attach sentimental value to items bought on pleasant visits to SA. We are all unique and so is our country, and designers who recognise that in their designs are sure to attract attention. There has been such an emphasis on mass production that locals are looking for unique designs that are flattering and of exceptional quality.
WOW is located in Ryneveld Street in Stellenbosch, so pop in the next time you’re in the town and show your support for this talented local fashion entrepreneur.
All images supplied by WOW