An entrepreneur is someone who finds a gap in the market and simply fills it. The word ‘simply’ has been used lightly in this case. It is a person who starts, organises and manages an enterprise. South Africa’s entrepreneurial growth is steadily increasing. There are many problems in South Africa, but one of the biggest, perhaps the biggest, is the economy. Some believe that the answer to saving the economy lies in entrepreneurship. Here is the first of four entrepreneur profiles we have included in The Study and Talent Guide:
Please give a short description of who you are and what your business is.
My name is Catarina Tubb. I am an Education student at the University of Pretoria. I took a few sewing lessons with Bernina a few years ago, and shortly after I started my business. I design and make clothing for young women. I started off very small with a bottom-of-the-range sewing machine, and as my business grew, my stock and machinery did too. At the moment, I am working on gowns/robes and a pyjama range. The robes are used by women/girls who wish to look more stylish in their pyjamas, brides preparing for their big day, ladies going into hospital, and some even choose to wear theirs out in public over a pair of skinny jeans and heels.
What drove you to start this company specifically?
As my sewing skills developed, I began making specific items of clothing for friends and family with the dress patterns I had at home. My family also started taking advantage of my new-found skill by getting me to shorten and make curtains and tablecloths. As I started producing clothing at a faster rate and without flaws, I took notice of markets and shows that sold clothing and realised that I could turn my new-found passion for sewing into a business. The first market I ever attended was the Rabbit Run Market at Park Acoustics in November 2013. It was such a rush and the customers loved what I made, so I continued to make more. After all my training and practice, I found myself trading at bigger shows that required larger amounts of stock. What was difficult was finding my specific brand, something that defined Hummingbird. After three years of sewing, I finally found my niche – robes and pyjamas.
What skills do you think are necessary to be a successful entrepreneur?
The number one skill I would have to say is perseverance. A lot of entrepreneurs (specifically young ones) give up on a dream simply because there are trying times. I pushed myself for years before I finally found what it is that defines Hummingbird.
You need to set high goals for yourself and keep pushing until you reach them. If you set easy goals, you won’t develop and work harder as an entrepreneur. It used to take me three days to make one single robe, but now I can make two in an afternoon and fit in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
I was always taught that if you never ask, the answer will always be no. If you need something, you have to go out and get it. I was turned down by so many markets because they did not like my product, but it did not stop me. I kept working harder and reapplying until I got where I needed to be.
Learn to bargain. This is imperative in my industry – specifically when shopping for material. There are always better prices for those who are starting out. You also have to have the ability to identify your weaknesses. The ability to manage money is very important. You need to draw a line between your business money and your personal money. Use social networks effectively. Social networks are a cost-effective way to start and advertise your business.
For more purchase the latest edition of Teenzone Magazine, The Study and Talent Guide