FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP Supporting women-led businesses that are growing the economy Clicks Brand Executive Phathiswa Sefatsa underscores the importance of entrepreneurs solving real problems. Please describe your role as Brand Executive for Clicks? As South Africa’s leading health, beauty and wellness retailer, Clicks has a very strong heritage and is a well-loved brand. My primary role is to maintain and enhance this position by developing brand marketing strategies that create a seamless experience throughout the customer journey across multiple channels, whether shopping at our brick-andmortar stores or online. How have the previous roles that you’ve held prepared you for your position at Clicks? I’ve been very fortunate to work for brands that I absolutely love, both locally and internationally. I learnt the importance of brand building whilst at Coca-Cola. Often brands tend to cut marketing spend when times are tough, but with Coca-Cola, they continue to increase their investment in the brand, as they understand the importance of building brand equity and the positive impact it has on the bottom line. Please comment on the two Clicks suppliers that we are highlighting elsewhere. Entrepreneurship 101 talks about meeting a customer need by providing a solution to a problem. What I love about these ladies is that they have solved problems that were very personal for them and created products that spoke to them directly. In addition to this, the mere fact that they are female makes this even more amazing for me. I can’t believe that in 2022 we are still talking about males and females in business, but this is still a prevailing issue in South Africa. I think it’s about time that people realise that as females we can start businesses, grow brands and make a real difference. For Clicks to show our commitment to these women who are growing our economy, is extremely impactful. Have you found the environment at Clicks supportive of you as a female business person? Two of my three bosses are female. I don’t think a lot of people can say that, especially at a senior level. Research shows that female-led companies fare better when it comes to staff turnaround and happiness within a business. I think that it’s time that we recognise that there’s a different way to run corporations and have them still be profitable. What do you feel could be done in South Africa to better support: • Women in business? • Women in the retail sector? I read about a female CEO who was very conscious of the masculine environment that she worked in. She would bring a lipstick into every meeting and keep it next to her, as a constant reminder that she was not only showing up for herself, but for all the women who were not in the room. I found that really powerful. There’s still more to be done – retail is still very male driven and dominated. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Clicks because there have been very few rooms where I’ve been the only woman present.
MADE IN SOUTH AFRICA Kids’ shoes made with love Oratile Kids founder Tsepiso Monamodi is looking forward to stocking more Clicks stores. said, “I can’t sell you this machine if you can’t sew because it’s an industrial machine. If you break the needle or any part of it, you’ll be paying me R2 000 every two months!” So I would go to her shop every Friday afternoon before I picked up my kids and learned to sew. I taught myself how to make the shoes. I watched videos until I got to the point where I could make the shoes the way I wanted them to look. I think it took me about six months. How did Clicks hear about you? The ladies from Clicks sent me a direct message on social media saying they loved what I’m doing, and wanted to schedule a meeting. I thought, no man, these people are lying! I ignored it, but then I got an email from them. Why did you decide to manufacture kids' shoes? My aunt and I were looking for shoes for my little one. She kept insisting that there were these soft shoes that were sold when I was young. We looked everywhere but we couldn’t find the shoes she wanted. When I looked for them online, I found that they did exist, but they were very expensive. The more I researched them, the more I fell in love with the concept -- the comfort, the softness and even how they helped little ones’ feet develop. That’s what led me to think that I could offer them, but maybe they could have more of an African feel and be a bit more unique. What did you learn in the early days of being an entrepreneur? I started selling at markets. I remember a lady came to me and said, “Where do you think you’re going to get money from if you’re selling shoes at this price? You’ll never make a million.” After that, I cried. But those lessons, those insights, are things I would never have learned if I hadn’t put myself out there. It makes your business stronger. That has been my anchor. Insights from my parents have been my foundation. You can buy research but getting advice from the horse’s mouth is way more valuable than anything else. What does “Oratile” mean? Oratile means love. We wanted to express that these shoes are made with love for the little ones. What sort of support has Clicks given you? Clicks has really held my hand through this. Remember, I knew nothing about retail. They’ve helped me with things like barcoding. When you’re a home business, these things don’t matter. In terms of quality, they’ve helped me to be consistent in terms of the products that we’re delivering. What are you planning next? I’ve started engaging with Clicks about an enterprise development plan, where they are going to help us to get factory space and more machinery and also to increase the number of Clicks stores that we are in. I look forward to creating jobs for our communities. Did you have any background in manufacturing that prepared you for making shoes? I asked my husband to buy me a sewing machine. I was quite lucky because the lady who sold me the machine – I will never forget her, her name was Margaret – asked me if I could sew, and I said no. She www.opportunityonline.co.za | 31