Sisters Bayanda Gumeda and Buhle Mabanga were inspired to start online children’s clothing store Skates and Candy when they were both pregnant with girls in late 2o14. “When we started shopping for girls’ clothes, we noticed there was too much pink and too many bright colours,” Bayanda tells DESTINY. “It was too obvious! We wanted something a bit more neutral.”
They started working on their new project in early 2015 and began trading in November that year. The duo also opted to create a gender-neutral range because they were tired of seeing the same outfits everywhere.
Bayanda and Buhle find style inspiration for Skates and Candy anywhere and everywhere – social media, magazines, TV and movies – and are involved in the manufacture of the clothes.
“We aren’t trained designers, so we come up with an idea and go to our manufacturing lady who puts a pattern together,” says Bayanda, adding that both her and Buhle are involved in the entire process, from choosing fabrics and colours to the final design.
The sisters have committed themselves to Skates and Candy full time. Bayanda resigned from her job when she found out she was pregnant, and Buhle followed soon after.
Starting a business from scratch isn’t easy. Bayanda says they have social media to thank in part for their success, though they’re continuously exploring various marketing avenues.
One of the major challenges they face is finding the right manufacturer. “Finding someone who knows what they’re doing, who’s not going to waste your time and your fabric and your money isn’t easy,” Bayanda says. “We’ve been through four already.”
The Skates and Candy team consists of Bayanda, Buhle and two other employees, who take care of admin and graphic design respectively.
Bayanda’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to make sure they do something they love.
“Running your own business is challenging, and if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’ll give up easily,” she says. “We’ve had some tough times, but what keeps us going is our love for the craft and the determination to reach our goals.”
Bayanda admits there are difficulties that come with a family business. She and Buhle have to guard against friction between each other. But apart for small concerns such as this, the sister duo has found the magic to create and run a successful business.
The pair have big plans for Skates and Candy. They’re aiming to do in-house manufacturing by the end of 2016 and are focused on expanding the brand by bringing in other aspects such as children’s decor.
“We want our brand to be more of a lifestyle brand while still keeping it online.”
Click here to browse and shop their range.