Clothing business owner fueled by childhood struggles

Tebatso Manyama grew up without extra shoes because his mother had to support her extended family. As an adult, he saw the need to create his clothing business brand, King Vleis Clothing, as a reminder of what he went through and where he is.

Manyama, who is originally from Tzaneen in Limpopo, told Entrepreneur Hub SA that he was always a lover of fashion growing up. However, the fact that his mother was the sole breadwinner meant that he did not enjoy owning a lot of quality shoes.

He believes that his mother could have afforded to buy him shoes, but because she was supporting her family as well as her siblings’ children, that was not possible.

However, this did not turn Monyama into a bitter person, but instead someone who became driven to create his brand two years ago during the height of the lockdown period.

Monyama explained that starting a business during Covid-19 was very risky. “I found it very difficult to open business during Covid as I had to fund my own business and the country was facing economic difficulties, but I pushed myself with a no-excuse attitude,” he said.

Monyama also said that he was fueled by his desire to give back to the less fortunate because it was equivalent to sharing the blessings one receives. He donates clothes, shoes and proceeds of his business profits to communities in Soweto and Alexandra.

His clothing brand, which sells sneakers, sportswear, shorts and other items, is an online store, which is not always easy to run. “One of the biggest challenges is having to deal with people’s attitude towards buying online,” he said. “For the most part, people still want to feel the fabric of the clothing and are still not accustomed to online shopping.”

Also, sometimes he must deal with the fights and disagreements that come with running an online clothing store such as customers refusing to pay, and suppliers who did not deliver the products on time.

Manyama said that he now wanted to open physical stores around the country, but still had a long way to go before reaching a certain level of success, which he defined as having over 1000 employees and helping more underprivileged people.

“I know that the most special entrepreneurs emerge from taking risks when everyone around them is scared, and I believe that this attitude is what carried me when I started the business, and will still carry me in the future as well,” he said.

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