Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

What inspires you?

Everything! I live in a constant state of conceptual redesign. Particularly when I travel – a whole new collection could be inspired by the color of a fruit, a piece of modern art or the song of a street band

Are there any tips you would like to give young entrepreneurs locally and in Africa on how to start a fashion brand?

Keep it local and be consistent. I produce 100% locally with small local artisans and CMT’s, and all my prints are collaborations with local artists and illustrators. Whilst this can be more expensive, it translates very well both locally and internationally on a sustainability and design front. I would also suggest avoiding trying to compete with high street fashion – they produce millions of units and you won’t be able to compete on price, so rather compete on design! I specialise in one of a kind prints designed here in South Africa in unique silhouettes – I’m not trying to appeal to everyone – just to my loyal customer base who have grown over the years and who I treasure.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

Give us an idea of a day in in the life of your business

It’s December now so it’s particularly busy for me! I head off fabric shopping while also collecting our printed fabrics, to get some production in before Christmas ( all our key dresses have sold out early) and the lovely ladies at my favourite CMT, Merwe Mode, are staying open so we can finish some more styles in time. At the same time, the girls head to our Loop Street store to send out our online orders, before going down to our pop up at the waterfront – we have just launched The Ultimate Summer Pop UP opposite Woolworths until the end of January, which is pretty exciting. I meet everyone at the waterfront and manage the staff and check on merchandising before we sit down for a marketing meeting. We run all of our own marketing and typically each week we will send out a mailer to our clients, as well as 3 – 5 Instagram and Facebook posts per week. Then it’s back to running the pop up – we have 15 other local designers on board and we run the sales for them as well. The girls will finish up the day at the waterfront whilst I head to design meetings – I’ve started conceptualising next year’s collection already and I’m meeting with print designers to work on some ideas. To finish up, most evenings in December have a fashion event or party on – tonight we have the Bokeh fashion film event at the Silo for some champagne and to catch up with the local industry!

What’s your favourite swimwear trend for 2020?

I’m really turned on by animal print – somehow it’s just working for me this season. All our current season prints feature animals in some way, and we will definitely carry this tone forward to the next collection (without giving anything away here).

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

Tell us a bit more about where you source your fabrics?

Most of our fabric is sourced locally, except some of our swimwear fabric which is sourced in Italy and Asia – but all printed locally.

Do you manufacture your swimwear in South Africa?

Yes, 100% locally here in Cape Town.

Where is your biggest clientele? Local or international?

Our main loyal clientele is actually local. We have the same wonderful clients who purchase all the pieces from each collection, they know our fits and prints and refuse to buy swimwear anywhere else. We do however now sell in Greece and Turkey, and we sell online internationally – mostly to Europe and the USA.

Where can we buy your product?

The best place this summer is at our V&A Waterfront concept store – The Ultimate Summer Pop Up, opposite Woolworths on the Lower Ground floor ( we also have a selection of other fabulous local designers there). Otherwise online at www.beachcult.co.za, or at our studio store at 30 Loop Street.

Do you see a future for local designers in South Africa?

Yes – as long as they continue to produce locally with a strong South African flair – I think we can grow our export market and compete in terms of authenticity and uniqueness on an international level.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Creative, Caring, Entrepreneur.

How do you design to cater for different shapes?

We have a big variety of shapes in our brand – from tiny Brazilian style bikinis and high cut deep v one pieces to high waist 50’s style bikinis and full coverage one-pieces. I do however think that as a small brand you should avoid trying to appeal to everyone – I have someone tell me what style of bikini I should make or what other size almost every day, despite making nearly 50 swimwear styles in 5 sizes. I don’t think niche brands should shoot themselves in the foot by trying to make everyone happy – I simply don’t have enough sales volumes to justify it – I think you should make your brand for your target market and don’t dilute your brand by appealing to absolutely everyone.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

Do you see a future for local designers in South Africa?

Yes – as long as they continue to produce locally with a strong South African flair – I think we can grow our export market and compete in terms of authenticity and uniqueness on an international level.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Creative, Caring, Entrepreneur.

How do you design to cater for different shapes?

We have a big variety of shapes in our brand – from tiny Brazilian style bikinis and high cut deep v one pieces to high waist 50’s style bikinis and full coverage one-pieces. I do however think that as a small brand you should avoid trying to appeal to everyone – I have someone tell me what style of bikini I should make or what other size almost every day, despite making nearly 50 swimwear styles in 5 sizes. I don’t think niche brands should shoot themselves in the foot by trying to make everyone happy – I simply don’t have enough sales volumes to justify it – I think you should make your brand for your target market and don’t dilute your brand by appealing to absolutely everyone.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult
Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

What’s sparked your interest in fashion?

My grandmother. She was completely fabulous. She made me all kinds of amazing clothes when I was a child – from tartan little suit dresses to clown costumes – anything I wanted she would make on her sewing machine. She believed in dressing up everyday in fantastic dresses, feathered hats and jewels and always made everyone smile.

Where do you see your brand going in the future?

Our online sales are really booming and we would like to keep this is our focus, along with our loop street store as our base. I’d like to expand to being sold in swim concept stores in Europe and the USA as well.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult
Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult
Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

As a creative how do you plan on giving back to the community?

I produce 100% locally with small groups of local artisans and women from Cape Town. I believe in supporting mom & pop industries in all of our production, as well as employing locals. I believe one of the best things we can do to support our economy and community is to create small local businesses to create jobs and increase local production. The trickle-down effect of each job created is critical to the local economy on a very basic level – the more sales we get, the more jobs we create, and the more local industry we support.

I also employ four interns per year, as I remember how hard to was to break into the local industry which is dominated by either mass industry, or small local designers who don’t have employees. To date, everyone who has interned with us has gone on to get a job or has been employed by us!

Who do you really want to dress in your swimwear? Who’s your dream client?

I love fabulous, outrageous women. Gypsetters who was to wear a whole look from BeachCult and go adventuring in Zanzibar or Tulum, and don’t abide by the clothing rules of society.

Africa Is Now Magazine - Beach Cult

PHOTOGRAPHER: ALEXA SINGER @LUSTRE
STYLIST: CHRISNA DE BRUYN
MODELS: YEMI @BOSSMODELSCT
ENIKO @THEMANAGEMENT
PRODUCTION: @LUSTRE