Yes! Every week we welcome talented bloggers to capture what Threads, the Business of Fashion Accelerator Program is all about. They play a key role in engaging with industry related discussions and get an exclusive insiders look on the program. For week 9 Market & Business Development module, our Johannesburg Classroom was joined by Lifestyle & Beauty blogger, Lauren Carmen.
I am a creative through and through; there is no doubt about that. With that being said though, for me to run a successful blog and maintain a solid brand image, I have to rely on a lot more than just creativity. A little while ago I wrote a post on the Threads business accelerator program (which you can read here if you missed it!), but to sum it up it is essentially a programme put together to teach fashion entrepreneurs the business side of the fashion industry. Because in all industries, creative or not, a business mind is necessary for growth! Since then a lot has been happening. The 12-week programme has begun and the 12 finalists have all started what is called ‘classrooms’. These comprise of different speakers who are all experts in their field, that come and give presentations on their specific focus. The finalists are spread out between four different cities; Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. These classrooms are recorded so that everyone can see and interact with the speakers and other participants during the session – regardless of which city the presentation is taking place in. Technology, right!?
I have been lucky enough to be a part of this amazing journey in my own small way, by being able to attend some of the classrooms and share my experiences on Lauren Carmen with you! Over the next few weeks, I will take you along with me over a series of posts, letting you into the world of Threads, fashion, business, and entrepreneurs! Kicking this off with the first classroom I attended on the 29th of January…
Monday’s classroom wasn’t the first of the programme, though it was the first one I attended, so everything was already in full force and the finalists were knee deep in the curriculum already.
Of course, me being the person that I am, I was a bit nervous before (I know it’s silly, don’t remind me) but you can’t control those butterflies! Doing something new is always daunting, but as I continue to learn, it’s one of the most rewarding things. Held at the Astro Tech Conference Centre (which is amazing, by the way) I was greeted by Tania, the founder of Threads, and the first speaker of the day: Professor Michelle from Vega. With a cup of tea and my camera in hand, I was ready to start the day – because who isn’t prepared when you’ve got tea?
Right before the first session began I met two of the fashion designers taking part in the Joburg classroom. Tshego, or Ms. Manche, the fierce lady behind the brand La Manche. And then Junior Mmotla, the founder of Mamagasehome clothing. Two very diverse entrepreneurs, but both fascinating in their own ways.
The first session was based on ‘Strategic Brand Management’ and Professor Michelle was an amazing woman to listen to. Being a lecturer at Vega School, which focuses majorly on branding and management, she has so much insight and knowledge that is useful to most people. She emphasized that people buy experiences and that knowing what you and your brand are about, inside out, is the most important thing. I loved the challenge that she gave to the finalists: each of the four cities was allocated a bank (Absa, FNB, Standard Bank and Capitec) and they were to describe what the bank would be like as a person. What sports do they like, what do they do for a living, where do they live, how do they get places, etc. The answers that came up were pretty hilarious, but the stronger point there was obviously the pictures in our minds that these brands have instilled, and remain over time.
The second session of the day was led by Gugu Nkabinde, and what an amazing woman she is. So vibrant, energetic and passionate. She is the founder of Gugu Intimates, a nude underwear range for skin of every colour. She was speaking on ‘Brand Strategy – Thought Leadership’ and she took us through her whole journey. It really is quite incredible to see the twists and turns people take in their life – expected or not. In Gugu’s case, she saw an opportunity where she could bring her own wild ideas to life, instead of being instructed on what path to take from different brands she had worked for previously. The underlying idea behind her range is that real women need to be celebrated, and that is something I am all about! When she started speaking she went on to tell us a little bit about herself, or as she said ‘who I am right now’. She emphasized the importance of knowing that you can dream over and over again in order to become the best in what you do. I felt like I really reson
ated with her vision – she’s one of those people who you are immediately mesmerized by and want to listen to their story.