Business Blitz | Pex Lifestyle: Being stylish in African print
It’s one thing pursuing a musical career but a whole other thing financing it from your own pocket. For Siyanda Mhlahlo co-founding a fashion business was the key to kick-start his musical career.
Thanks to the vibrant rise of the AmaKipKip brand, Mhlahlo was inspired to create Pex Lifestyle which features a number of designs with a focus on traditional shawl material.
While entrepreneurship was introduced to him by his aunt, Mhlahlo shares the journey he has since embarked as a businessman in fashion.
Tell us about your upbringing?
I used to sell toilet paper for a living and rejection was part of my everyday life. I understood the concept of not giving up as I was selling house to house in the neighbourhood. I was a soccer star and at the age of 16 I was the head coach of one of the most successful teams in my community, which is where my decision-making skills came from.
What skills were necessary to ensuring you had a quality product and a well-run business?
I found sales, marketing and finance very crucial to running the business smoothly but we spent more time in Research and Development particularly product development and market research. The type of business needs you to understand basic fashion design techniques and the manufacturing processes is very instrumental in producing a quality product.
There is great difficulty in ensuring customers buy products, especially with a fashion business; how do you tackle this issue?
As the Pex Lifestyle team we use the agile methodologies especially Human Centred Design approach that focuses on the customer. We involve our customers in almost every step of our product design and generate more feedback and critics that we then use as insight to produce the products. This makes it easier for them to buy from us because they were part of the production team.
What has been the biggest hurdle you faced running your business and how did you overcome it?
The biggest professional issue was losing a UK supply deal in 2018 and that experience was just too much for me to endure at the time but when I look at that opportunity I am glad it did not materialise because I was not ready.