E-shop goes live after uphill journey

Wendy Vesela-Ntimbani learnt about retailing through an online business during her time spent overseas

Wendy Vesela-Ntimbani learnt about retailing through an online business during her time spent overseas.

Makoya Brands is a name many will soon come to know, if owner Wendy Vesela-Ntimbani’s plans for 2014 come together.

This is very likely, since she is a woman who managed to sway overseas businesses to supply her business with premium brands which, at that stage, was only an idea.

Six months later, in November 2013, Vesela-Ntimbani was back in the country and launched Makoya Brands, an online fashion shop that sells premium brands such as Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani and Timberland at discounted rates.

“I think the most difficult thing about starting the business was access to finance, but I managed to invest R450 000 of my own savings,” says Vesela-Ntimbani, a qualified chemical engineer who worked in the Czech Republic for five years.

She later moved to Switzerland, where she was resident for three years, and it was during this time that the idea of starting an e-shop came to her. It was also during this time that she completed a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

“I was regularly shopping online and, at that stage, online shopping had not really taken off in South Africa, so I started researching my business idea,” says Vesela-Ntimbani.

The city she lived in was two hours away from Milan, one of the world’s fashion capitals and Vesela-Ntimbani approached a number of suppliers with her idea.

She was told that as soon as she had set up her business and was ready, they would supply her.

Needless to say, upon her arrival in South Africa, Vesela-Ntimbani wasted no time in registering her business and the website had already been designed prior to her arrival, so all that left her to do was find a reliable shipping company.

“It was very challenging to find a shipping company, as I needed to do research as well as check their reputation via references and cross references,” says Vesela-Ntimbani.

In addition, she did market research about online payments and discovered that people were scared of providing their personal details.

As a result of this information, Vesela-Ntimbani decided that the best way to build trust with her customers was to allow them different options, depending on their preferences.

Says Vesela-Ntimbani: “ Some customers can create an account and register and others do not need to create an account.

However, because we are based in Durban, we are sometimes required to courier goods to customers and in these instances we need to have their contact information as well as the address where the goods need to be delivered to.”

She says sales are coming in, albeit slowly, but she attributes this to a lack of marketing on her side.

“I have had so many things to concentrate on and have only been doing organic marketing via social media. This has helped quite a bit as my target market is online, but there is room to do more.

It has been difficult to get people interested in an idea, but now that I have an actual business I believe I will get better assistance,” says Vesela-Ntimbani.

She says her biggest focus right now is on marketing her business and getting her name out there.

Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Makoya Brands, , , , Vesela Ntimbani

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