A young designer with a passion for fashion has carved a place for herself in the relatively closed garment market.
After studying abroad for close to 10 years, Chaz Ngaka (36) started a clothing business in Johannesburg that has created hundreds of jobs.
Kala Lifestyle designs, manufactures and supplies fashion wear, corporate apparel and protective clothing. In its decade of existence, Kala has created 120 direct jobs and approximately 500 indirect jobs and has an annual turnover of about R5 million.
Ngaka was born in Pietermaritzburg but was fortunate to be able to study in America and London which, she says, opened her mind and inspired her to take brave decisions as a young black woman.
“After completing grade 12, I applied to a programme that sent youngsters to study in America. I later studied fashion design at London College. I also obtained an information technology qualification from Birkbeck University,” she explained.
While working for a retail chain store in London, Ngaka was headhunted by a local retail chain store and returned home in 2005 to work as a ladies’ range buyer.
“I realised during that period how closed the market was because the companies that manufactured and supplied clothes to many stores have been doing business with them for decades. There were no newbies in the game. I saw the gap and two years later I decided to establish my business,” she said.
In the beginning she had no factory and had to outsource the manufacturing of her designs, but today Ngaka has her own factory with the capacity to manufacture 60 000 units of a specific order.
“Getting a R2.5 million loan from the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) has helped my business grow.
“I also get a lot of support from the IDC in terms of marketing campaigns and being exposed to business opportunities,” she explained.
While Ngaka is a shining example for entrepreneurs, her success was not without its challenges. Her message to budding entrepreneurs is to be focused, patient and continue empower themselves with the skills needed to grow their businesses.