Meet Yande, a fashionista and small business owner of fashion brand, Rep Kulture from Perth WA.
Yande’s business, Rep Kulture, designs and sells clothing pieces made from beautiful and vibrant African print materials. Yande and her team design the clothes in Perth, WA and support five small tailoring businesses in Africa that bring the designs to life.
“I always wanted to do business and I have always valued business in general. When this came about, I really wanted to pursue it. I was really passionate about it and the idea that I can execute though the business. My family is also quite business orientated and they always encourage me to think outside the box.”
Yande has big goals, to take her brand global and to represent multiculturalism in Perth, WA. Read more about Yande’s business journey below.
I run a premium African-Australian fashion brand called Rep Kulture. We have been running for just over 2 years. We reached out to Many Rivers for support to expand.
All of our clothes are made in Africa but designed in Australia. We have a network of tailors in Africa and we are trying to support microenterprises in Africa. My team and I design everything and all that they are doing is putting it together. We have 5 small businesses at the moment -3 in Nigeria and 2 in Tunisia. I found these tailors through social media and through the personal connections I have. They have their own small businesses and have continual business coming through. The whole idea is that we have different businesses that work under us and they understand our vision.
Rep Kulture’s Business Journey
We had a lot of people who wanted to come to my house to try clothes on. So, then we had a small store in Booragoon which was good for the meantime because it was cheap, but it was quite hidden. It wasn’t working because there was no one knew we were there, but it was helpful for people who wanted to come and try clothes on. Then we contacted by Activate Perth and they are trying to revitalise the city with small businesses. They are trying to show that Perth is multicultural. We are seeing where we are going with the CBD store and at the moment it is working well.
At the moment I am just working with my brother and my in-house designer. Then we have some models that regularly come into the store. Everyone is super flexible, and they understand the growth of the brand. My designer is in it for the growth of the brand and she’s passionate about what we are doing.
I think it is sacrificing a lot of time and being comfortable with not being available all the time. I have to set a lot of boundaries with my social life. Usually, before starting my own business, I had a lot of time to do whatever I wanted with my friends. I was always available. But now I have to tell myself that I don’t have time for this. I feel really bad when I have to tell people no, has been really challenging for me. I can’t compromise going to work and I work six days a week. So we have to plan and schedule things ahead of time. Not everyone is happy about this.
Working with Many Rivers
Multicultural Futures referred me to Many Rivers. They had mentioned Many Rivers at an event or in a newsletter and I then reached out. I had already started my business and then I reached out to Many Rivers. I needed some funding to expand that and I also got the mentorship as well and I really valued that.
Joy, my Many Rivers business coach helped me get funding for my business. She has also helped me to understand the financials and bookkeeping by referring me to different individuals and organisations that offer those services. She’s been quite helpful. She has also helped me with any questions that I have.
The funding was really good because it helped me to expand my business but it also helped me to understand how to run my business. The funding helped me get more stock meaning that I had enough to fund my business when we were growing faster than we expected. We have a lot of people asking about our style and the style we are creating, and they’d put in a bigger order and I wouldn’t have the funds to do this.
The bookkeeping side of things was always a challenge for me but Joy was really good at showing me an easier solution to bookkeeping. She was also very great at helping me with marketing and KPIs.
Making changes on design samples and waiting for them to arrive, making the changes, then remaking them. The time lag is a challenge. The tailors know what they are doing and we send them a lot of detail so it is always really good but there are small changes that sometimes need to be made for it to be perfect. The lack of us being able to get involved in the production process is difficult because the production is all up to the tailors. I think the biggest challenge is the back and forth.
Also, when someone orders it online it comes straight from Africa, so if there is anything that the customers want to change then there is nothing we can do. We are working on our customer order process and making it more streamlined. We are also finding an easier way to sample our collections for when we make new collections. That is our next goal.
It is definitely moving into the city. And it is also that the product is really good and we are very happy with it.
Future Goals for Rep Kulture
We want to make Rep Kulture more than fashion- we want it to be about culture. We want to connect with people in the community that are already doing something. People who are impacting and changing the community. We generate awareness but we also want to do lots of collaborations with individuals. Streamlining the customer order process is the first goal to achieve this step toward this bigger goal. We are thinking of collaborating with female entrepreneurs. We also just want to expand the brand beyond Australia, to New Zealand. Eventually, we would love to be worldwide. We hope we can showcase that Perth is multicultural.
Thanks, Yande for sharing your story with us. We can’t wait to support you on this journey to achieving your future business goals.
We want to encourage more and more people to take that first step toward building on their small business ideas, or their existing businesses.
We’re here to support you the whole way.
Did you love hearing about Yande’s business journey with Rep Kulture? If you would like to read another, read about Debra, the small business owner of Bunni Beez, who sells delicious cinnamon buns that keep you coming back for more.