While in high school, Shiyenze Khasoha was active in the school’s drama club not only as an actress, but also as a costume designer.

After high school, she modelled for designers, an experience she loved and that opened her mind up to the business of fashion.

She decided to set up Shiyenze Fashion, with the idea of focusing on African-print outfits.She started small, sewing from home, and with careful branding and high quality standards, her business inevitably grew. One of her tipping points came when she met the former host of popular TV show, Larry Madowo, at a fashion exhibition.

Larry loved her designs and asked her to be the official designer on the show. Shiyenze leveraged on the marketing opportunity this offered to grow her business.

But then tragedy struck. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2018. The treatment, which was a year-long, took a toll on her both physically and financially. Early this year, though, she was finally declared cancer free, but she was left in debt.

And then just a month later, it was found that the cancer had spread on her right ovary, and she now needed an operation to remove her reproductive system.

To raise funds for her treatment and still keep her business going, Shiyenze has reduced her production costs and set aside 50 per cent of her profits for her treatment, while she reinvests the rest into her business.

The Business Coach linked her up to Ann Mcreath, the founder of Kikoromeo, to help her along in this noble mission. Here’s some of what was shared.

1. Preferably work from home to reduce rent costs

To cut the costs incurred by a business, work from home instead of having to pay for premises, especially in the early stages. What’s vital in the fashion business is a workshop where production can take place, and you can use a room or garage for this.

2. Understand the retail space

There’s a shopping malls frenzy, and many fashion brands are quick to set up shop in these spaces. However, be cautious with this as the retail space has evolved over the years. Instead of opening a shop, with its attendant high set-up costs, opt for an online shop, which is cheaper to set up and has high client access.

3. Don’t underprice your product

To succeed in the fashion business, you need a clear understanding of who your client is and the costs incurred in creating your product. It’s with this in mind that you should price your product.

4. A brand has value

The fashion business is brand driven, so it is critical that you understand the value of what you’re creating. Trademark your brand and strive to grow it over time as it’s a vital element of the business valuation.

First published here