On 17 November 2022, at the 2022 South African Small Business Awards, Dumisani Mahlangu (founder of Chepa Streetwear) was announced as the 2022 National Entrepreneur Champion. Over the years, this esteemed award has been given to those who display courage, vision, resilience, excellence and a dogged determination to succeed. This year’s winner is no different.
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 standards 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, which showed him how to be self-sufficient and to take care of his family. His father’s entrepreneurial journey, filled with successes and failures, taught him a great deal about the nature of running one’s own business.
One of the challenges he faced was when outsourcing his production process and the goods not meeting the standard. This led him to invest in his own factory – one machine and 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.
Dumisani sees himself as resilient, forward thinking, technologically-driven and patient with growth. Taking calculated risks to stretch the boundaries and see how far he can go on his path of growth.
In the future, Chepa Streetwear wants to attract high-value skills, diversify their product, create improved technology efficiencies, and engage in digital marketing campaigns with an emphasis on social media. Furthermore, they currently work with Standard Bank, Lucky star, ABSA, and Epiroc and would like to expand this division of the business to service more corporates.
As for their retail footprint, they have one retail outlet in Gauteng and are looking to open more outlets in Cape Town, Durban, and East London.