Student entrepreneur develops platform for local fashion designers

A 21-year-old University student, Eohan Lakey has developed a new marketplace platform for local fashion designers and brands.

NOWNOW aims to become a leading marketplace in Africa for local fashion designers and brands

Launching in 2018, NOWNOW has grown to become one of the country’s leading marketplaces for local fashion and brands to showcase and sell their unique and proudly South African products.

In an interview with Ventureburn, Eohan Lakey provides insight into the business goals and aims of the innovative platform.

“The aim of NOWNOW, from an organisational standpoint, is to be the leading marketplace of its kind in Africa. Although we’re still a while away from that goal, it remains our main target for our medium-to-long-term plan. We are also finalising the planning of our manufacturing wing of NOWNOW that will be providing our designers with the best and most cost-efficient manufacturing facilities and abilities specifically geared at small designers.”

As a completely self-funded startup, the young entrepreneur has built the business from the ground up.

“Up until now, NOWNOW has been completely self-funded. Starting off as an idea, a couple of hundred rands in our bank account and burning desire to make this a successful business till where we are now still amazes us as through the very limited funds that were available we’ve been able to grow this business to a point where it’s self-sufficient without the need of additional funds,” explains Lakay.

Although bootstrapped from day one, NOWNOW is actively seeking investors and capital funding to grow its business model to its full potential and more.

Speaking passionately about NOWNOW, Lakay explains that the concept of NOWNOW was thought of while he was still in high school.

“Back in 2015 the idea of NOWNOW came to me while I was in Grade 10 at Rondebosch Boys High School during an Economics lesson, after assessing the current retail climate in South Africa and realising that an Oligopoly exists in the retail Sector (specifically Fashion Retail) thus, has high barriers to entry thus making it difficult for local fashion designers to competitively enter the market. After a few years of planning, research, and testing a fellow classmate and I partnered together to work on NOWNOW during my gap year, at the beginning of 2018 to launch the business to the public in July of 2018. As of the last quarter of 2019, I am the sole owner of NOWNOW.”

The tech side

Fashion designers and brands are able to utilise NOWNOW through access to an easy-to-use portal. The portal allows users to manage their products which are available on the online marketplace.

Providing a simple and easy marketplace for local fashion designers and brands to sell their produce, NOWNOW has a hands-on approach providing additional delivery services for clients listed on the platform.

“Once an order is placed, our collection team will collect the order where it will be sent to one of our four distribution partners after which it will be delivered to the customer,” said Lakay.

NOWNOW also assists in their client’s marketing plan and has had success with their most recent campaign targetted at increasing exposure of their client’s products and overall revenue.

“We assist brands with the marketing aspect of their business through connecting with Influencers and assisting with content creation through the implementation of our recent Insiders Campaign that aligns certain brands with specific content creators as well as studio and promotional photoshoots.”

For fashion designers and brands

Local fashion designers and brands are vetted against a requirement basis to be showcased on NOWNOW. This vetting process includes a thorough analysis of the brand’s societal impact and overall sales.

Once approved, clients have the option to choose between two different plans, the exclusive and the non-exclusive option.

The exclusive plan includes a strong foundation of support, additional features including a custom landing page, and more. This will cost clients a subscription fee of R399 with a 12.5% commission and R5 fulfillment fee.

The non-exclusive plan charges each brand a subscription fee of R200, a 12.5% commission, and R5 fulfillment fee. Although slightly similar to the exclusive plan, the non-exclusive plan provides each designer or brand with the basic functions of the marketplace and general customer experience.

“We’ve created a fully integrated multivendor marketplace with dedicated distribution methods both locally and internationally. We’ve done all the hard yards by setting up all these integrated systems thus allowing each brand and designer to focus solely on their product and creation of garments thus promoting growth through more cost-effective, efficient, and profitable methods of entering the eCommerce market. Although we are an eCommerce based business, our assistance goes far beyond just eCommerce.
As our slogan goes, Your People, Your Fashion, ” concludes Lakay.

Read more: Entries open for APO Group African Women in Media Award
Read more: Female student entrepreneur wins UCT Shark Tank programme

Featured image: Eohan Lakay, founder of NOWNOW (Supplied)

Ishani Chetty: Editor
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