Building a successful fashion retail showcase brand is no small feat, and requires endless amounts of energy and passion, not to mention a great eye for detail and the knack of selecting the best designs for different marketplaces. However, Nobesuthu Ndlovu, the co-founder of Burgundy Fly, is a great example of a woman entrepreneur who has all these skills and more, and together with her business partner and husband, is building an exciting fashion retail company.
LoA met with Nobesuthu Ndlovu recently at the Standard Bank Women in Innovation event, where she shared her entrepreneurial journey to date, and took the opportunity to showcase the work of some of her featured designers on the catwalk.
"We are South Africa's Fashion Window To The World: a clothing boutique chain that retails the finest fashion created by South Africa’s top designers and a gallery for designers to showcase their talents and express their love for the art."
What does your company do?
Burgundy Fly is a platform for South Africa's most talented designers to showcase their love for fashion and art.
What inspired you to start your company?
There are two reasons. Firstly, being a corporate employee I couldn’t understand why designer wear was unaccessible to the average South African. Secondly, after completing a business course via GIBS (Gordon Institute of Business Science), we were hungry for a business. We started off by searching for businesses on sale, but through speaking to various people in the retail space, we realised that there was a large commercial gap in the South African designer wear market.
"Burgundy Fly aims to be South Africa's most recognisable brand, serving as a conduit for the exposure of all things in the fashion and art scene of South Africa."
#EntrepreneurAdvice: "...believe in yourself and your capabilities, all the way through the journey."
- Nobesuthu Ndlovu @burgundyfly
What makes Burgundy Fly different?
Burgundy Fly exudes timeless style, and therefore our customers are guaranteed to look and feel good regardless of when or where they wear their Burgundy Fly dress.
Tell us a little about your team.
The business is made up of my husband and I (Boardroom meeting discussions are often held in the shower!). Each of our stores consists of two staff members, who effectively run the store.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
After completing my studies in Information Systems at the University of Cape Town in 2001, I started my working career in business analysis in the banking sector. Whilst working I completed my commerce honours degree majoring in Informatics at the University of Johannesburg in 2003. This lead to me fulfilling various corporate roles, including project management, business development management and CRM manager.
However, having been part of my father’s “free labour” team during school holidays in my youth, I was naturally inclined to start a business as part of my life journey. To kick-start the journey, I completed a business course with the Gordon Institute of Business Science in 2007. At the age of 27, myself and my business partner started our fashion retail boutique, Burgundy Fly. Stemming from a passion for fashion and the arts, the business was formed to solve two problems: the lack of commercialisation of top South African designer wear and a lack of accessibility of local designer wear for the South African market.
"You'll find picking clothes at Burgundy Fly to be as natural as picking fruit from a low hanging branch."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Burgundy Fly aims to be South Africa's most recognisable brand, serving as a conduit for the exposure of all things in the fashion and art scene of South Africa.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Firstly, being the boss of my own time. Secondly, knowing that I can come up with an idea and implement it immediately without layers of decision making. Thirdly, playing a direct part in the success of South African designer wear.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
There will always be reasons as to why you shouldn't start a business; focusing on the cons and on the negatives for most ideas is a sure way to ensure failure. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that not only are you in a positive headspace, but also that you believe in yourself and your capabilities, all the way through the journey.
Contact or follow Burgundy Fly
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love women entrepreneurs who have a vision, think big, and then make that vision a reality. Nobesuthu is one such entrepreneur, who is passionate about showcasing the best of South African fashion design through her retail boutiques and online platform. Her eye for detail, both in terms of creating beautiful shopping experiences for her customers and also for selecting the best and most creative South African designers to work with, is wonderful to see. Nobesuthu and her Burgundy Fly retail brand are ones to watch in Africa’s fashion space over the coming months and years. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa