Despite the odds, an entrepreneur’s dream to expose young talent in South Africa has seen his fashion magazine grow to 10 editions with an average reported following of 20 000 readers.
Anam Xinwa, executive director of Illaphulam, and his brother Naphi, with whom he co-owns the business initially planned to start the magazine as a catalogue that would be sold to big retailers showcasing young designers’ work.
“I saw that up-and-coming designers were not getting exposure. I drew up a proposal and in January 2012 approached the National Youth Development Agency and the Department of Arts and Culture in East London,” says Anam.
But he was met with disappointment when his proposal was rejected on the belief that he didn’t have a viable business concept.
Set on making a success, Anam then moved to Johannesburg two months later and partnered with his brother Naphi, a qualified graphic designer. The brothers registered the business in 2012.
Seven months later they launched Illaphulam African Fashion Journal.
The bi-monthly magazine is aimed at the fashion industry, including young designers, buyers, boutique owners and fashion lovers, and can be found at www.issuu.com, a site which hosts digital publications for free.
Access to funding has been a constant challenge for the business – one which the brothers refuse to allow to bring them down.
“We need at least R5.4 million to set up the business, buy equipment and vehicles and cover costs.
At the moment we are achieving what we want to achieve by exposing the designers, but we want to grow the magazine,” says Anam.
Last year the magazine featured an East London designer. Thanks to the exposure of the magazine, the designer was spotted by the organisers of a fashion show in Canada and invited to showcase his designs in August this year.
The magazine draws about 20 000 to 50 000 visitors to the site which hosts the magazine.
“In our fourth edition, we had 54 000 clicks,” says a proud Anam.
He believes that this shows that there is a significant interest in their publication.
The brothers are now intent on attracting funding for the magazine through other channels – including through advertising and are in the process of joining the Audit Bureau of Circulations South Africa (ABC), which will help them to demonstrate their readership figures to potential advertisers.