BYLINE: KESHIA AFRICA- WEEKEND ARGUS
THE father of modern business management Peter Drucker once said that the best way to predict the future was to create it.
This rings true for four entrepreneurs from Strand who used the seaside suburb’s name to create clothing apparel brand St’Rand.
In August 2020, JJ Stover, 22, Nico van Zyl, 23, Neil van Tonder, 27 and Chris Smit, 27, came up with the idea after brainstorming ways they could make an extra income.
In the last year and a half, the four friends have turned St’Rand Apparel into a fully fledged business.
Mr Stover is responsible for communications, Mr Van Zyl handles their social media and digital marketing, Van Tonder handles logistics, and Smit marketing.
They were inspired by Springbok backline player, Willie le Roux, who hails from Strand. When asked where he comes from in an interview, Mr Le Roux answered St. Rand.
Mr Stover said people from Strand who attended schools outside the area, always said they live in St. Rand.
“There’s always been a stigma that Strand is an area that was looked down upon, seen as lower-class area.
“Using St. Rand started as a joke, but it quickly caught on. When Willie started using it, we saw a gap in the market,” he added.
Mr Van Zyl said they noticed that the area lacked a local apparel brand.
“We thought, why don’t we start it? We thought it might be something that will pique interest,” he said.
When the business started, they only created branded stickers. Today, St’Rand Apparel stocks T-shirts, hoodies, beach bags and more.
The four entrepreneurs received their start-up capital from Van Zyl’s mom, Elzaan, who is also one of their business investors.
“We managed to pay her back in eight months. After that, we put our profits back into the business so that we can expand our product offering,” he said.
Mr Van Zyl said one of their biggest business challenges has been finding an affordable and good quality supplier.
“Finding a good supplier proved difficult in the beginning because we still needed to add a mark-up to the cost price, to make a profit,” he said.
“As a team, we realised it’s important that we tap into our strengths and let each one do what they do best,” he said.
In January, St’Rand Apparel also had to deal with locals from the area trying to knock off items in their range.
“We looked into it and managed to find who was behind it. It was a big shock to us because we’re putting our all into the business,” he said.
The four budding entrepreneurs are working on season 3 of their apparel range which includes branded swimwear for the upcoming festive season.
“We’re right at the beach, and people love our brand, it only makes sense,” Mr Van Zyl said.
He added: “We also want to start catering more to women because our brand currently only offers unisex items.”
Mr Van Zyl said his advice to aspiring entrepreneurs was to persevere.
“It won’t be all sunshine and roses but if you persevere, you will see the fruits of your labour.”
Source: Weekend Argus