Chilled champagne, cupcakes and a shopping experience unlike any other Namibia has seen were the order of the day as the My Republik team celebrated its first birthday at The Grove Mall of Namibia.
As Namibia’s first clothing brand, not only retailed in a branded outlet, but that is also designed, developed, cut, trimmed and stitched locally, the team had plenty to celebrate as they looked back on their first year in business.
Building a brand from scratch is no easy feat and although they were challenged, the team behind My Republik persisted in delivering a unique shopping experience, such as free alterations and offering coffee and water to welcome customers as they shopped, which kept them coming back for more.
In its eighth month of operation, My Republik surpassed N$1 million in sales, followed by a world-class brand launch in June.
Started by Ally Angula and Manna Matswetu, My Republik was founded on the idea that the only way to create sustainable development and social change is through stimulating economic development.
“We chose to venture into this industry due to its proven success in stimulating economies in countries, such as China, Mauritius, Vietnam and most recently Ethiopia,” Angula says.
As newcomers to an industry they previously thought they had no access to, Ally aims to prove that “with sheer determination and conviction nothing is impossible. We can all achieve the unimaginable.”
This is not to say that the previous year in business has been without challenges. The company previously sought assistance from external consultants, but subsquently learned that this would set them further back as the consultants lacked an understanding of the local industry and how it operates.
They then resolved to hire and develop skills in-house. However, this proved to be a challenge on its own because the skills, specifically those in the creative fields, were seriously lacking locally.
Other challenges included the lack of production space, as production began in a 25 square metre office space, which also accommodated operational staff. The limited space would constrain the amount of garments that could be produced, in turn leading to limited sales.
Ally says: “People were always asking us why we don’t have certain sizes available for them, when really they had just already been sold out”.
She sees the growth of the team from one employee in February 2014 to a team of 74 as a major highlight. My Republik is now preparing for the opening of its second outlet in Maerua Mall towards the end of November. The team is also excited about the start of operations at the garment manufacturing factory in Witvlei, a town with an unemployment rate of 90 percent. The factory will enable the team to cater to a wider variety of designs, sizes and fits. The facility is expected to start operations in early November.