Fabricate: supporting local designers
Caitlin23 Oct, 2020
Fabricate is a breath of fresh air in Cape Town’s Gardens Center. Owned and managed by two sisters, Farzanah and Leila Badsha, Fabricate champions locally made products. Their stock ranges from homeware and jewellery, to stationery and art. Everything is made in South Africa and they are passionate about supporting other small businesses.
Fabricate started as a popup in 2013, but has been at its current location for the last few years. We spoke to Leila Badsha to find out more about Fabricate, the importance of supporting local, and what it takes to be a business owner in 2020.
What values drive your business?
We take a lot of care selecting products that are well made, well priced and beautiful. We only stock products which are made in South Africa and we stick to that strictly. We are passionate about supporting small businesses and helping them with their product development. We work hard to make sure our business is as environmentally sensitive as possible. Good customer service is also crucial for us.
How does supporting local designers tie into your business?
It is absolutely central to our business and defines everything we do. We stock over 90 small local designers so when you buy from us you aren’t just supporting our store, you are also supporting other small businesses. The economic benefits for the local economy ripple out from there.
When new entrepreneurs or designers are looking for advice, what are their most frequently asked questions?
We get a lot of designers asking if we can stock their products in our store. We always ask potential suppliers to send us images and more information about their products. Designers often ask our advice about pricing their products. Product pricing is really important and it’s something a designer needs to work out before approaching potential stockists. They need to take into consideration their material costs, operating costs, labour etc. They often don’t properly factor in retail markups and VAT.
What is the one question they should be asking, but are not?
Designers don’t think about packaging and displaying their products early enough in the design process. Merchandising products is really important and impacts packaging and product design. I don’t think designers think about how a product will be displayed in a retail setting, which is very different from online sales or direct purchases from their studios or market stalls. They also need to ask if their product is unique and fills a niche in the market.
What has your experience been with SnapScan?
We have had Snapscan since we opened and it’s really convenient for shoppers and for us. It’s also saved us over the years with load shedding. We find it particularly useful now as customers don’t need to touch a card machine. In level 4 lockdown we started a delivery service and it was very useful to be able to email or WhatsApp customers our SnapScan code which is much easier than them having to do an EFT.
What have been your biggest learnings this year?
We learnt that we can’t plan for everything. The lockdown was so unexpected and we are glad that we had made some good cautious business decisions from the start, which meant that we were able to ride out the lockdown without having to retrench staff or close down. We also learnt that we have to be resilient and flexible.
What’s one piece of advice you wish you’d received when you were starting out?
How to balance taking risks vs being cautious and growing organically – it is a tricky balance and I wish someone could have advised us on how to reach this balance. A lot of people suggested we start an online store and I wish we had done it sooner, but I’m glad we are starting it now.
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