Bold, brass and unafraid to say it exactly as she sees it, (even when it ruffles a few feathers) Nomathemba Ndebele is more than just one of the most influential players on Zimbabwe’s social media platforms. We talk to the formidable business woman and dedicated mother about the birth of Posh, her popular clothing store in Harare’s CBD and her plans on global fashion domination. By: Vimbayi Mudzengerere
Who is Nomathemba Primrose Ndebele?
Nomathemba Primrose Ndebele is a Harare based Fashion Entrepreneur |Women Developmentalist and Social Commentator who runs Posh; a high end fashion line which majors in Retail, Personal Shopping and manufacturing mainly for cooperates.
Whatinspired you to start Posh?
My inspiration for Posh as I look back came from the clients I serviced whilst working as a Shop Attendant at a clothing store in Harare. The joy, self-confidence and smiles portrayed by many women after I dressed them, touched me from day to day and I felt it was a calling more than just an 8 to 5job. I was inspired that one day I would start my own line and spend the rest of my life doing what I love most: Fashion.
What influences you when buying for your store?
I am an avid lover for Fashion and its trends;I spend most of my time reading and watching Fashion material. Our style is usually based on international trends though we go the extra mile to custom pick designs specifically for the “sophisticated” woman making most of our garments rare gems that most women are proud to wear and own. We still believe in the olden days of dressing hence the tagline MODERN BOUTIQUE WITH A VINTAGE CHARM.
Looking back what did you envision when you were planning to open Posh Boutique?
As I look back I still realise my vision for Posh has not changed, it is still along the same elements of the need to create a high end Fashion Business which provides customized and personalised services to clients whilst at the same time selling garments whose quality and style is unmatched. I believe so far we have managed to uphold that vision and we are still working hard to further expand the vision into multiple store openings around the continent before going international. It is possible! At one time big names in this industry were nobodies!
What challenges have you faced and what have you been able to do to overcome those challenges?
The biggest challenge for most business in Africa is access to capital. Most women have a lot of great ideas but they lack the support needed to start the business. To overcome this, I started planning and saving part of my salary whilst still employed and once I raised atleast fifty percent of the total capital required, I started talking to friends and relatives for assistance. The lesson I learnt from that was to keep moving and use the little resources which you have to build your dream. Secondly besides the capital challenge they say “It’s easy to get into business and difficult to stay in business”.This is another challenge I have come across as a young business woman and my team and I have learnt along the way to keep on reinventing ourselves and the business model in this ever changing economic climate.
What types of marketing and promotions have been most successful to Posh?
We believe our model photo shoots have been very successful. Soon after launching the brand, we went on a drive to work with Zimbabwean talented models and photographers where we showcased various garments from our collection. The photo shoots we do are a portrayal of not just selling clothes but a “Posh-feel good” lifestyle which a lot of our customers relate to and are proud to be associated with. A lot of customers have made purchases from as far as England, Canada and America based on our photo shoots.
What advice would you offer someone who is thinking of starting a business?
One of the major misconceptions about business is that you just need to have capital, which is wrong. I always have a lot of people who come to me and say they have X amount and would like to also do what I do or what the next person is doing. I strongly believe the foundation of any business is finding something you are passionate and talented in, the moment you do something you are passionate about, no matter the obstacles you will fight to see it through. If it is just a money venture, you will quickly shut down and move to the next project. My advice is always that you find your passion and purpose first then start working towards that dream.
Take us through a day in your life as a fashion entrepreneur:
My day usually starts at 5am. I start with a prayer then do my house chores, thankfully my kids are all boarders now (they mess up the house) then I do my morning exercises and then I go to the shop soon after. My day is usually divided between attendingto customers, making deliveries, coordinating marketing campaigns, dealing with suppliers, manufacturers and more often travelling abroad to source stock! Everyday always has its own challenges, which I enjoy very much as it keeps me on my toes.
How do you balance your work and home obligations?
Being a working mother has never been easy for any of us as there is the need to effectively balance the two which most often all come as full time jobs. I usually take time to spend with my children whenever I can and weekends I usually stop unannounced at their schools where I sweet-talk those in charge to let me in. To me family comes above everything else! I always make them a priority and I also get a chance to run my personal errands. My children are very supportive and understand the nature of my job so sometimes they come with me to the shop when a client calls in at odd hours.
What are your future plans for your business?
We are in the process of looking at expanding our business into other territories. The short term goal is to set up a store in South Africa’s Cape Town before going into other fashion capitals.The long term goal for our brand is to have Posh as an International brand which specializes in Retail, Manufacturing and VIP Personal shopping…. At one point they will know about us because best believe in my travels I have met, sat and talked with people who run International fashion houses. Endless possibilities.