The idea was formulated while NLV CEO, Khanyi Dhlomo, was busy completing her Harvard MBA. Dhlomo’s always been passionate about both media and fashion and says it was a natural progression, after launching Destiny magazine six years ago, to pursue a business in the fashion arena. Dhlomo says she sees the business as a legacy project that will have at its heart the goal to bring the best of international fashion to local shores, become a destination boutique for tourists and also work hard to support local designers, artists and craftswomen who will make bespoke pieces for the store.

Dhlomo and her mother, Venetia Dhlomo, own 65% of the business. Additionally, Nonduna Investments, the family investment vehicle of Dr Judy Dlamini, owns a 15% stake. The balance is comprised of two trusts worth 10% each – one for NLV and Ndalo Media staff and another for rural women entrepreneurs.

The National Empowerment Fund was approached for funding in the first quarter of  2012. They approved an amount of R34 million in loan finance in the third quarter of 2012 for the construction of the store, the procurement of stock from local and international suppliers, and the local manufacture of a clothing range for the Luminance brand, called the Luminance Private Label.  Additional equity was provided by the shareholders from their own funds amounting to R15 million, which is higher that the minimum shareholder contribution amount required by the NEF.

NLV is 100% black-owned and the majority of staff and the rural women’s groups benefiting through the trusts, comprise women and youth.

Dhlomo explained that the funding from the NEF was based on certain criteria that NLV had to meet.

“This included our broad-based ownership structure, our impact on job creation and black women empowerment and the economic contribution Luminance will make to the local clothing sector via the Luminance Private Label,” she said.

The 20% portion of shares for NLV and Ndalo Media staff as well as for rural women entrepreneurs will be warehoused by the NEF until the loan has been paid up fully. “Once we’ve paid back the loan finance, the 20% stake will be released to the two trust entities,” Dhlomo explained.

Dhlomo is proud of the fact that Luminance stands to change the face of the local retail industry, playing a part in transforming a sector that’s largely been white- and foreign-owned.

Dhlomo is proud of the fact that Luminance stands to change the face of the local retail industry, playing a part in transforming a sector that’s largely been white- and foreign-owned.

Says Dhlomo: “The Luminance Private Label brand will also positively impact the local clothing industry as we have contracted a Johannesburg factory that is female-owned and run to manufacture 50% of the range. What’s more, they will have an ongoing engagement with our Italian manufacturers creating the other 50% of the garments, which demonstrates our passion for skills transfer in the local sector.”

Dhlomo says she was insistent on going “direct to the source” in getting onboard international, luxury labels including Red Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Marni, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Giorgio Armani.

“We’ve been able to establish direct relationships with some of the designers and key executives heading up these brands for a particular purpose; we will be hosting some of these international designers in South Africa over the next 18 months for expert talks and presentations. It’s our wish that they will be able to share their experiences and skills with young graduates, established local designers and Luminance customers,” Dhlomo said.

Local designers represented in the store include Stoned Cherrie and Stefania Morland with David Tlale and Marianne Fassler’s ranges being available from October onwards.

NLV has created permanent and temporary employment for a wide range of people, including the store employees, the NLV office staff, and also the proudly South African companies involved in the store design, construction, maintenance and security.

The store will also keep items from the Luminance Signature Collection which sources and sells distinctive African craftsmanship, created by rural and urban communities including Ababumbi in Pietermaritzburg, Simunye in KwaNyuswa and Imiso in Cape Town. These groups will comprise some of the beneficiaries of the 10% rural women entrepreneurs trust.

Additionally, fine art and furniture will also be available as part of the Collection from the likes of Pierre Cronje (who’s created a bespoke range for the store), Nelson Makamo and photographers, Victor Dlamini, Steve Tanchel, Keith Christian and Merwelene van der Merwe.

For further information, please contact Public Relations and Marketing Manager, Khensani Mashamba, on khensani.mashamba@ndalomedia.com.