Two South African women with a background in fashion are today using their unique design aesthetic and manufacturing experience to create a business manufacturing beautiful 100% linen tableware.
Moira tells their story....
My name is Moira Kasher, and I am the co-Founder of Toka Linen, together with my business partner, Christine Tozer. The dictionary defines entrepreneurship as one who undertakes an enterprise. Others see it as the process of discovering new ways of combining resources ie the creation of a new enterprise of which the entrepreneur is the founder. Our venture encompasses these points of view. Christine and I worked together as a team at SA Clothing, a very large and successful clothing manufacturer, for 15 years. During this time we gained invaluable experience in trending, design, fabric, sales and manufacturing. I decided when my children were small that I wanted to be able to spend more time at home and so resigned in 2005.
"At Toka Linen, we would supply the market place with beautiful 100% linen tableware in gorgeous colours and, of course, bespoke table cloths made to measure! We would be encouraging our customers to enjoy dressing their tables as much as they enjoyed dressing themselves!"
However the time arrived when I became keen to be involved in business and products again. Of course, now the thought process began of deciding what to do. I have a huge interest in art, design and homeware, but was still at sixes and sevens about where a possible gap existed in the the market which could be filled with a product which I could hang my hat on. A combination of an article I read in a magazine, plus the fact that I had never been able to purchase a table cloth to fit our table at home, sparked a thought process which then proceeded to grow into what I thought could be a viable, beautiful product. I spoke to Christine about my idea and so our business journey began. We would supply the market place with beautiful 100% linen tableware in gorgeous colours and, of course, bespoke table cloths made to measure! We would be encouraging our customers to enjoy dressing their tables as much as they enjoyed dressing themselves! We also decided to sell linen blend fabric which could be used to upholster furniture.
Finding a name for our company proved really tricky. I sat for hours thinking of appropriate names and then narrowed it down to a few. In order to register one’s company, it is advisable to check if the names you are submitting have been previously registered. Well of course, this was like finding a needle in a haystack, as every name under the sun has been registered. So it became necessary to think of something that was out of the box but still sounded good. I thought of combining letters from out surnames, i.e. TOzer and KAsher, and forming them into the name Toka Linen. We were of course thrilled when it was approved, as it had a great ring to it and was personal!
First and foremost we only wanted to sell something into the market which we loved and identified with. Once we had decided on the product, we set about making it happen. We needed to source the fabric, dye house and suitable manufacturer. All the trims and packaging needed to be sourced, as well as suitable branding. We launched the product doing pop up shops in Durban and Johannesburg. We will now be providing various outlets with our goods, as well as selling to hotels. We will also use fairs to further expand our sales.
Entrepreneurial Advice: "Think out the box and don't get despondent while you find your way."
In terms of the challenges and hurdles we have faced as an entrepreneur over the years, production is always a challenge as it does not always go according to a plan!! The other challenge is always trying to keep the product representing value for money.
What gives me the most satisfaction as an entrepreneur is firstly the the process of creating something beautiful that other people will appreciate and love to buy - that is very rewarding. Of course, the bottom line is being able to sell, make a profit and grow a business and that is very satisfying. It is difficult to single out any specific highlights of my entrepreneurial journey so far, as the journey has in itself been exciting.
So, where next for Toka Linen? Well, we would like to make more products such as bed linen, kitchen towels, and maybe even sleep wear.
Why LoA loves it ……
The beautiful linen products made by the talented and passionate women behind Toka Linen make any table setting look like a jewel box - the colours are simply stunning, with a freshness and vibrancy that conjures up images of exquisite long lunches or dinners outdoors with great food, great friends and great conversation. A must-have for any table. --- Melanie