Local entrepreneurs Mr Mike Donegan and Ms Suraya Tewari of Opus 1 & Mooi River Home Textiles shared the story of their successful business journey with students at the Entrepreneurs Engage event hosted by the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L).
The initiative gives students encouragement and allows them the opportunity of assessing success stories.
Tewari and Donegan took the audience through their personal and business trajectory in the textile industry – probably one of the toughest to be in currently. The recent turbulence in global markets, the substantial competition from imports and the weak Rand have made this industry particularly vulnerable.
Furthermore, the duo’s manufacturing business is located in an economically depressed area characterised by high unemployment. Despite this they have survived the odds and created a profitable manufacturing business focused on the production of high quality top-end home textile ranges for retail stores such as Woolworths, Mr Price and Edgars.
Donegan spoke about critical success factors, including knowledge of the industry, an intense focus and expertise in design, and uncompromising attention to quality and customer relations which have been the cornerstone of their business for more than 30 years.
Donegan’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs was: ‘When you start a business, it is important to have the expertise in the industry you want to be in; surround yourself with people that you can trust because you can’t do everything yourself. Never be embarrassed to ask questions or be scared to face a challenge because there will always be people who will be telling you that you won’t make it. It is never too late to start a business.’
Tewary highlighted the importance of keeping abreast of trends and knowing every single aspect of the product being marketed. She pinpointed trend watching which led to innovations she has managed to create in her business.
Both speakers referred to the importance of building long and lasting relationships with customers – in their case corporate buyers. This resulted in their company becoming the largest supplier to some of their client stores.
It is envisaged that through engaging with successful entrepreneurs, candidates will gain a realistic view of the business world thus blending theory and practice.