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Positive Pants – the e-commerce startup connecting women entrepreneurs [Q&A]
SA sisters Monie Freeme and Roxie van der Venter are the founders of Positive Pants, an e-commerce boutique created to provide women of all ages, shapes and sizes with a diverse, feminine and comfortable range that invokes positivity and confidence.
Achieving your business objectives becomes so much easier when you’re able to look past the allure of ‘getting ahead’
Please tell our readers more about your startup?
We are the owners of Positive Pants, a boutique, e-commerce clothing company. Positive Pants was established in April 2018 and is now officially over three years old.
Our beautiful designs can be used for work, gym or as leisurewear but beyond selling clothes, our business is built on our vision of creating a strong network of women who support and uplift one another, in life and business. We also pride ourselves on promoting holistic health in women.
How has Covid-19 impacted your business?
As an online business, we are in a fortunate position in the sense that Covid-19 has had minimal impact on our business operations. On the contrary, Covid-19 has acted as an accelerant for us. We are one of a few fully-fledged, local, online boutique stores. Lockdown – and in particular, hard lockdown – proved to be some of our best months, as more and more women across SA were spending time browsing online and on social media. From the get-go, social media has been one of our core marketing strategies and focuses, which had enabled us to establish a strong social media presence long before Covid-19 came about.
This means that we had a captive audience to market to during some of our country’s toughest months, which enabled us not only to survive, but to thrive through the pandemic. An important factor in how we achieved this would be our pricing. At Positive Pants, we gave women (and men) the option to spoil themselves and their loved ones while not breaking the bank. We are so humbled to be in the position that we are in, as we are acutely aware that this is not the experience or reality for most other small business owners in our country.
What drives you, personally and professionally?
As a company and in our personal capacities we are most passionate about promoting holistic health in women We are also extremely passionate about empowering women in any and every way we can.
As a brand, our main purpose is to empower women to embrace and love every single thing about themselves, so that they can live their lives as boldly and confidently as they want.
How do young women entrepreneurs get into your industry?
As small business owners, we strongly believe that you are what you consistently do. If there is something you want to achieve in life, you have to give your absolute all to ensure that every step you take, is another step closer to fulfilling your dreams.
One piece of wisdom we can impart is to collaborate as much as you can. Achieving your business objectives becomes so much easier when you’re able to look past the allure of ‘getting ahead’ and competing against others. Focus on yourself, your dreams, and building your team and network so that you can call on support when things get tough, and vice versa.
What online material or platforms should startups look into to network or find information?
At Positive Pants, we have been fortunate to build an extensive network of women – our #sisterhoodofpositivepants) who have supported us in growing our business over the past few years to heights we never even dreamed of.
To give back to this community of women, we have recently started our #WEARESHE campaign, an initiative that is tailor-made for other small businesses owners or young female entrepreneurs who would like to get exposure for their small businesses, charities or any other passion projects that they are running. We profile these women, who they are and what they do and will post about them across our social media platforms, which collectively reaches over 40 000 people.
So, if there are any young girls or women who have their start-ups and would like to market what they do to our network, please feel free to send a message to either our Instagram or Facebook pages, and we will try our absolute best to give them the exposure that they deserve.
Do women in your industry experience difficulty in career growth?
As entrepreneurs, we believe that you are solely responsible for your career growth, trajectory and success, irrespective of gender. If your passion for what you do and what you want to achieve can motivate and drive you in your everyday life and you are willing to put in the hours and tackle any challenges head-on, then this will inevitably determine your success.
We entered a market that was and is still incredibly saturated, however, our drive and determination to be a success enabled us to come up with new and innovative ways to differentiate ourselves from other brands. Overall, being an entrepreneur will always be a challenge, but the joy, success and pride that the outcome brings you will always be worth it.
What are some of the hardships you endured or challenges you’ve faced when you first launched?
One of the biggest challenges we came to learn as a startup was the need to invest money and time into upskilling ourselves when it came to starting and managing a website, running an e-commerce platform, and broadening our digital skill sets,
When you’re just starting out, budgets and capital are very limited and so you just don’t have the money to outsource these types of functions to external parties, which leaves you to do it yourself. The biggest ‘drawback’ with this is more so the time-consuming nature of taking things like digital marketing courses, as in the back of your mind, you know there are more pressing matters that are taking a back seat.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Ask for help. We got through some of our challenges by simply reaching out to women in our network who were either specialists in digital technologies, marketing or simply ran their businesses and were able to offer us insights into getting around certain issues or challenges. Swallowing your pride and learning to ask for help and leverage your networks can be difficult, but it is so rewarding.
At the end of the day, everyone needs help. It is one of the reasons we have such a close-knit sisterhood now, as we know we can go to certain people for advice and help and equally so, we are always happy to lend a helping hand.
What advice do you have for the next generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs?
Clarity, happiness and innovation are often found in the simplest of things so, yes, do your research and planning but once that is done, take the leap. You will find a way to make it work if you want it.
Lastly, while networking and resources are crucial to a prosperous life and career, hard work and the right attitude will ALWAYS be the key to success.
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Featured image: Positive Pants founders, Monie Freeme and Roxie van der Venter (Supplied)