Founded in August 2017, Chepa Streetwear is an African-print clothing manufacturer and retailer. They draw inspiration from modern designs and infuse them with African print paying great attention to detail and quality. One of the key factors for their success is manufacturing their own range. By owning this function, they can impact their local community by employing skilled individuals and the youth. They also can ensure they manufacture their product efficiently and that the quality is above the standard and on time.
Dumisani Mahlangu’s entrepreneurial journey started at a young age selling sweets, boerewors rolls, t-shirts, and sneakers. He had great entrepreneurial role models in his family who showed him how to be self-sufficient and take care of his family. His father’s entrepreneurial journey was one of his greatest teachers as he witnessed how his father handled both success and failure.
He didn’t get the big entrepreneurial break at the start of his journey and decided to turn to corporate and climb the ladder to a senior position which allowed him to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. Little did he know that his side hustle would fuel his passion and groom him to be the entrepreneur he is today.
During his season in corporate, he was able to build focus in his business and know which channels and processes to concentrate on, so that the business was legitimate, professional, and would survive when the challenges came.
One of the challenges he faced was when outsourcing his production process the goods did not meet his required standard of quality. This led him to invest in his own factory, one machine and one tailor at a time. Because of his limited knowledge of the fashion production industry, he decided to hire graduates who had a passion for fashion and local brands.
Another significant challenge accessing finance and capital. Dumisani struggled to get a bank loan because of the incredible amount of red tape he need to get through. But he realised the more revenue he had, the more he could do to get himself out of his rut. With this never-say-die mindset in place, he taught himself to code so that he could build his website (www.chepa.co.za) and also did a digital marketing course. With this new knowledge in his arsenal, and coupling it with his existing sales skills, he watched his revenue slowly start to grow.
Dumisani sees himself as resilient, forward-thinking, technologically-driven and patient with growth. He believes in taking calculated risks to stretch the boundaries and see how far they can go on their path of growth.
Dumisani Mahlangu was chosen as the National Entrepreneur Champion for 2022 at South African Small Business Awards.