Buy local and help SA thrive
One way in which they can do so is to buy locally manufactured products, ensuring that the money being spent remains in the country.
“If public servants buy products and services that are locally produced and rendered, we will be able to grow the economy and create the much-needed jobs,” says Proudly South African Chief Executive Officer Eustace Mashimbye.
Proudly SA is the country’s only official buy local campaign. It serves the interests of all local manufacturers and producers.
Mashimbye says public servants who buy something that is imported into the country despite a local alternative being available, need to be aware that their purchasing decision could contribute to further jobs losses in South Africa.
He believes that everyone has a role to play in turning the economy around.
In an effort to make locally manufactured products accessible to consumers, Proudly South African is a partner in an initiative called rsamade.co.za – which is an e-commerce website that gives South African manufacturers the opportunity to advertise their products to local and global consumers.
Merchants are also able to display their locally manufactured products on the website, which gives them global exposure.
Mashimbye encourages local manufacturers and entrepreneurs to consider establishing partnerships with strategic buyers.
“This will enable your business to expand, whether it is through giving you more exposure, linking you with more opportunities or both of you creating a product or initiative that can benefit you in the long run.”
Proudly SA also maintains partnerships with industry bodies, associations and corporates that fund or support initiatives which benefit local manufacturers and entrepreneurs.
One of the local entrepreneurs who is enjoying the benefits of being a member of Proudly SA is Neo Rangaka, 26, the owner of Johannesburg-based BLVNK – a luxury street wear brand she established in 2018.
“The brand is all about telling African stories through fashion. As a brand, we see people as art and we are the canvas; we interpret and take in the stories we see from people. We also recognise where we are going as a nation and we just document that as we go along,” she says.
“I started the company back in 2017 while I was still studying. It started off as a consultation company, offering personal styling for people, custom-made garments, wardrobe consulting and shopping.”
Rangaka holds a degree in fashion design from Villioti Fashion Institute in Johannesburg.
She got her big break in 2018 when she came across the Design Innovation Challenge hosted by Edcon – which is a partner in Proudly SA’s Buy Local campaign – and Runway Productions.
The Design Innovation Challenge is an annual incubation programme in which designers come up with new ideas and concepts and create something out of it. Ambassadors of the initiative visit a number of institutions across the country each year to look for new talent.
“My previous lecturer told me about it and I was interested. I was in the final year of my studies and I was able to hand in my graduation collection. I got a call back and that’s how I joined the programme,” she explains.
“I saw this as an opportunity to actually start a clothing brand, which is something I had always wanted to do but I first needed to acquire the right skills and knowledge. That is how BLVNK was born.”
Rangaka has one permanent employee, who is responsible for marketing and outsources human resources, using the skills of local people, such as those who work at Victoria Yards in Johannesburg, where her business currently operates.
“We [at Victoria Yards] are a number of designers who share space and work together. I bring my designs to the team, which assists in meeting my manufacturing needs instead of outsourcing people from internationally.”
She sells her clothes at Victoria Yards as well as on an online platform called Vibe Life Culture.
“My ultimate goal is for the world to buy clothes in South Africa. We all want these well-known international brands. I also love and admire them but South Africa has so much to offer in culture and diversity.”
Time to expand
Rangaka believes the world is starting to look towards Africa, and this means it is the right time for her to expand her brand.
“Instead of international brands coming to South Africa to look for inspiration and to design a South African-inspired piece that will be sold across the globe, it would be nice to have the world buying South African brands that are designed by us. Something about our culture that is made by us.”
The Design Innovation Challenge is endorsed by Proudly South African as it helps create employment for young fashion industry professionals.
The initiative enabled Rangaka to showcase her clothes at the South African Fashion Week.
With the help of Proudly South African, she also got an opportunity to erect a pop-up store in Milan, Italy. Although the event has been postponed as a result of the coronavirus, she was among the local designers chosen to showcase their products at the next Buy Local Summit and Expo.
Another government entity – the National Youth Development Agency – aided in Rangaka’s success by giving her R10 000 in funding, which she used to buy material.
As the saying goes, ‘fashion is a cut-throat industry’ but Rangaka believes she can do anything if she remains resilient. Resilience is what keeps her going, she explains, because she believes talent and connections are not enough to survive the industry.
You can visit www.rsamade.co.za to buy locally manufactured products, contact 078 584 8432 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries.