Minikazi Matlhaga is a fashionista, a mother and a wife and of course an entrepreneur. This former MTN Manager left corporate and followed her passion of opening up her fashion retail store. She sells high end, premium designer clothing and accessories. She is not only an entrepreneur she is married, raising four kids – her youngest being six years old. She is a spiritual woman, a woman of strong faith and belief and I enjoy talking to her about kids, clothing, business, rediscovering her faith. I recently asked her to tell us about her business Zahi Fashion Hub based in Fourways.
Mimi tell us who you are and where your life all began?
I was born and raised in a small village called Pamlaville, in Matatiele in the Eastern Cape.
I left this town over 22 years ago, straight after completing my high school.
What shaped your career? You were a corporate woman, and you left – what led to open your business and where did the love of fashion come from?
I was born an entrepreneur, consumed by a burning passion for selling. My entrepreneurship spirit manifested when I was only eight years old. I started selling pop chips for my family. They would give me 50 chips a day, trading at 50c each and I would diligently bring the daily revenue home. After a few months, I decided to make my cash; I politely informed my mom that I would no longer sell for the family. I gave her R2 that my maternal grandmother had given me to buy a sack of pop chips to start my own business, the main aim was to begin my piggy-bank savings. Each bag had about 300 chips. By the time I was in high school, I was the “go to girl” for peanuts, pears, sweets, apples, I was even the photographer for the whole school. The money was rolling in, my dad built and fixed a cash safe for me in my parent’s main bedroom. I have never stopped selling since then.
For 18 years, while working in corporate, I would always be juggling between my regular job in marketing/procurement and running my own business. The decision to focus all my energy on building my brand became imminent in 2014 when I left my job as a Commodity Manager at MTN to start Zahi Trading Group.
Love for fashion…I believe that I was born to occupy to beauty space, specifically, fashion. As a child, I loved dressing up. I was never an ordinary child; every day was always an occasion, an opportunity to dress up and look my best, with the little that I had. I also love boosting other people’s confidence by styling them – head to toe.
Can you tell us a bit more about Zahi Fashion Hub?
Zahi Fashion Hub was an official birth of the fashion/styling house born in April 2018. My fashion styling journey started 18 years ago. In 2000, I had an R1000 in my bank account. I bought ten handbags at Oriental Plaza, I sold them and restocked a few times. Within six months, I had generated enough profit to buy myself a flight ticket for my 1st trip overseas – Bangkok to source unique pieces for my growing clientele. I used to sell from the boot of my car for many years.
Zahi Fashion Hub is an exclusive but yet affordable ladies clothing boutique based in Fourways. I have a passion, and I want to give my customers the confidence boost, and with every carefully selected fashion item, it became a one-stop destination to satisfy elegant clothing cravings – from cocktail, formal / couture dresses, shoes, handbags, sunglasses, accessories.
What was the gap you saw in the market?
I noticed a gap whenever I needed a unique complete outfit for a special occasion within Fourways; I always had to drive far to shop. I identified this gap, in April, I decided to provide a solution for another Minikazi, who is facing the same predicament.
I know a lot of entrepreneurs are so fearful of starting a retail business – what does it take to start a retail shop and what are some of your lessons?
It takes a fearless attitude, consistency and resilience. It takes a countless number of failures, periods of being broke; it takes pushing through even in the midst of those close to you losing their faith in your vision. It takes blood, sweat and tears, working when you are sick, toiling for long hours. With all that being said, it is fulfilling when you do what you love.
The industry has evolved from predominately local brands, who enjoyed home market dominance, to a more competitive landscape with international brands such as Zara, and H&M etc. all set up shop on our shores. Research before starting a retail business in SA is a prerequisite. Otherwise one runs a risk of being part of the failure statistics.
The lessons I have learnt are: online retail has started to significantly alter shoppers’ behavioural patterns. They do pre-shopping or comparative shopping online, therefore, there’s less chance of them visiting a mall to walk around. No browsing or window shopping means no impulse buying. The proliferation of mobile commerce means that shoppers don’t want an offline or online world, they want a “no-line” world.
The lesson in this made Zahi Fashion Hub focus its marketing communication reach more on digital channels.
Who is your target market? Do you sell to voluptuous women like me? I always see nice clothes on your Instagram? What are the sizes you sell?
Our target market is upwardly mobile female, LSM 10 – 12. And they range from self-employed, house executives, senior executives, celebrities and students.
Our sizes vary from size 26 to 46. We cater for both the slim and the plus size queens. The fastest selling items are size 38 and above.
I see you dress some of the celebrities – can you tell us who you are dressing and who are some of your high-profile clients?
From April to date, I have styled the following celebrities in the land: Bonang Matheba, Pearl Modiadie, Ayanda and Thando Thabethe, Pinky Girl – from the Reality Show – Being Bonang, Loreal from Project Runway.
Most of my customers do not wish to be known about where they shop. They love the mystery of looking fly without even their best friends knowing where they get the hot items. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to name them….some are wives of the CEO of the JSE listed firms in SA.
What are some of the things you enjoy about your business? And the not so great?
I get an exhilarating thrill from styling my customers, I get a kick from picking the unique fashion items overseas, and I feel absolute content when they walk away with a complete fashion solution to their needs. I do not enjoy the admin and operations side of the business – balancing books, compiling weekly and monthly reports.
Are you online yet? If not online when do you see yourself moving into the e-commerce space?
My business generates the bulk of the revenue from online sales. I feature prominently on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. The website www.zahifashionhub.co.za should be ready within a month from now; it takes longer to design an e-commerce website.
How do you balance your work and being a mother and a wife?
The grace of God sustains me daily to juggle the multiple roles in my life. My day starts at 04h00 daily and ends at 20h30 and finally sleep at 22h00. Time management is key to ensuring that I account for every minute of the day, after all, time is “chankura”, time is money.
What can you tell other women entrepreneurs going on this journey?
Entrepreneurship is not for the sissies, yet it needs feminity, men were created for a purpose, so were the woman. As a woman, be tough but never try to be a man, you will be an ugly version of him. Think like him but act like her. There is a big space in entrepreneurship for a woman. Establish what you love, find the gap, decide, do and never give up!
How can people get hold of you?
I can be reached at:
Zahi Fashion Hub
Prism Business Park
Landline: 011 367 0634
Mobile: 083 212 3021
Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org