Shakeel Karjieker is the owner of Global Unique Fabrics – a fabric store for crafters, sewing enthusiasts, yarn and fabric lovers, which focuses on the community as well as innovation.
Shakeel started his business out of the necessity to earn a living. He was newly married and had freshly graduated from University. His choices were to either find a job in corporate or to start a business. He opted for the latter and his epic entrepreneurial journey got underway.
He loves how his business has evolved over time. What started out as a simple fabric shop has become the go to place for all things yarn, crafts, fabric and haberdashery. At Global Unique Fabrics, Shakeel has the most amazing leadership team that supports his vision and helps him cultivate a positive work culture. This allows him to be at the stage where he can work on his business rather than in his business.
Here are three of the biggest lessons Shakeel has learnt on his journey, that could benefit those who are starting out or who are survivalist entrepreneurs that are stuck:
1. You don’t have to be a lone wolf
Make strategic contacts, build your own community of supporters and look after them. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. There are plenty who will help if you have the courage to ask. Get a mentor.
2. Develop yourself as one who leads
Your leadership should inspire action in others.
3. Opportunities present themselves to the ones who deserve it
Don’t wait for opportunities to come. Take action on your goals now, so you are prepared for when the opportunity does present itself.
Some time ago, Global Unique Fabrics shifted their focus away from products and hard selling and moved towards focusing on the client experience instead. They looked into their ‘why’ and developed a company culture and customer service booklet around it. This proved to be a good move and drastically changed the way they do business, engage with their clients and their bottom line.
Shakeel’s ‘why’ revolves around inspiring his clients and staff. He believes that by using business as the main vehicle for this, his mission is to instill hope, inspire and leave his clients and staff feeling optimistic and positive.
To this end Global Unique Fabrics have created an amazing company culture and a pleasant experience for their staff and clients. Shakeel says that when your ‘why’ is compelling, one doesn’t need motivation to get up and do what one loves.
He believes that small businesses are the real champions of the economy and that, collectively, they are the biggest contributors to the South African economy in terms of gross income, employment and compliance.
He goes on to say that small businesses should be celebrated for this major contribution, however because they work from hand to mouth they don’t have big budgets to market themselves and get noticed like corporates or big companies do.
South Africa should therefore support their local communities by visiting and connecting with the owners or managers of the stores and build relationships with them. Shakeel, as a small business owner himself , can truly say that the support and encouragement from the local community gives the business owner the motivation to carry on and keep serving.
He thinks that because small business owners risk so much to follow there dreams and serve communities, we as a nation should develop a culture of supporting them first before going to the big companies.
Shakeel Karjieker of Global Unique Fabrics was selected as one of the Top 20 Winners at the 2020 South African Small Business Awards and was selected as the overall winner of the 2020 National Entrepreur Champion Award – honouring small business owners that show entrepreneurial excellence.
The NSBC is dedicated to elevating small businesses in South Africa by giving them the tools, knowledge and platform to connect, grow and thrive. Are you a small business? Find out more about becoming an NSBC Member here.