In a world which is increasingly turning its attention to all things hand-crafted, and companies using ethically sourced materials that support local craftsmanship, Candice Johnson is one entrepreneur turning her passion for luxury, handcrafted knitwear, into a thriving business, aptly named Miss Knitwear.
LoA spoke to Candice about her entrepreneurial journey and her vision for the future of her company and her luxury knitwear brand.
What does your company do?
Miss Knitwear is a Cape Town based designer and producer of luxury knitwear, using natural yarns and materials which are locally and ethically sourced.
"Through my celebration and support of traditional South African talents and skills, I sought to create something locally that is special and unique in a market that is flooded with big brands offering synthetic Chinese imports."
What inspired you to start your company?
Through my celebration and support of traditional South African talents and skills, I sought to create something locally that is special and unique in a market that is flooded with big brands offering synthetic Chinese imports. With an unwaveringly held belief in treading lightly on the earth, I only use the finest of natural South African yarns such as pure kid mohair. Along with my knowledge, experience and passion in knitwear design and the talents of my knitters, I created in 2013 my Miss Knitwear range of pure kid mohair knitted products to offer both local and foreign seekers of high quality craftsmanship. A collection of products to make them feel luxurious and nurtured.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
I have a very unique product line. My brand has a strong identity and appeals to seekers of luxury, softness and the finest of quality. I use the finest count of pure kid mohair available. Pure kid mohair is known for it's exceptional durability and warmth. The hollow fibres make it very light in weight and it does not have scales, like wool, which irritate the skin. The fibres also create coolness in summer and warmth in winter as they adjust to the body's temperature. Each of my products is finished with love and care by hand in my studio. I'm constantly innovating my product line with new styles and innovations. I create employment for local people.
"With an unwaveringly held belief in treading lightly on the earth, I only use the finest of natural South African yarns such as pure kid mohair."
Tell us a little about your team
I work with a very dedicated team of knitters based in a factory space in Cape town. I have worked with them for many years having built a great relationship when I was working as a senior knitwear designer at a local manufacturer. They knit all my fabric which then gets finished with feathers, beading and labelling which I do in my design studio. I also do all my own marketing and promotional work and sales.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I started Miss Knitwear early in 2013. Prior to this I worked at various knitwear manufacturers for 15 years in the Cape Town clothing industry. I understand the knitting process and all the production processes. I've always had a boss until end of 2012. This is my first venture going out on my own, creating something beneficial and valuable in the world to myself and others. My Dad was a very successful entrepreneur in the insurance business before he retired and has been a very supportive and encouraging influence in my business venture.
"My brand has a strong identity and appeals to seekers of luxury, softness and the finest of quality."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I aim to fully integrate Miss Knitwear into the South African luxury goods market. I plan to also showcase my brand, my commitment to my products and the amazing talents of my local knitters on a global stage. I would love the opportunity to expand into Europe and have taken steps in this direction already. I've obtained my exporters code and Euro1 certificates and I'm already supplying a boutique in the South of France.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
I love the feedback I receive when a client has received their order, or their shipment, and they are thrilled with the standard and quality of their purchases. I also appreciate the help I receive and the amazing connections and contacts I've made. Also, the feeling of empowerment in making your own decisions and the learning and freedom that comes in the process of stepping into that power.
"If your heart is in what you are doing, then you will be supported by the universe."
- Candice Johnson @missknitwear #mohair #ChooseArtisan
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
My advice would be to know that you will go through ups and downs in your business and to let that be okay. Not to get swept away by the difficult times but to keep focused and know that those you can weather. There will be expansion on the other side. Keep going and don't worry too much about making mistakes. There will be many but staying grounded and centered can allow you to see that there is learning in each step of the way and to trust the process. If your heart is in what you are doing, then you will be supported by the universe.
Contact or follow Miss Knitwear
Why LoA loves it….
The whole notion of AfroLuxe is gaining traction around the world, and many of its key exponents are women entrepreneurs who are taking their passion for what they do, and their love of craftsmanship, to a whole new level through their companies, products and brands. Candice Johnson is one such entrepreneur, taking her love of luxury mohair and elevating it to new heights through her beautiful knitwear creations. The Miss Knitwear brand is definitely one to look out for this year as the AfroLuxe wave continues to pick up global fans. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa