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The embrace of personalized goods in attire is taking a variety of forms. This is an experiment in the idea of mass customization, in which clothes are made for an individual’s preferences or sizes.
It is a departure from the model of selling standardized, mass-produced goods that has dominated retailing for more than a century.
A local entrepreneur - Nkululeko Diteko has already grabbed an opportunity within this ongoing trend.
His company – “Hands of Pablo” specialises in customisation of clothing including shoes, backpacks and caps.
“I have always loved art, especially urban art like graffiti, I used to draw on my clothing items using felt pens at school,” Diteko said.
Diteko adds that it was until last year (2017) that he decided to turn passion into business even though he studied Information Technology at Botho University.
He says for marketing he solely rely on social media as his targets are mostly tertiary students. He added that although he does not have permanent employees at the moment, he has two direct sales that help him with his products.
“Also lack of transport is a challenge as I do deliveries to all tertiary students around the country and to some customer’s residences, however I am still in talks with a courier company to take care of deliveries” said the Mahalapye born.
Still in challenges Diteko notes that his biggest challenge so far is lack of space where his art studio could be based, as he is operating from home.
He says as optimistic as he is, he believes in 5 years the company would have graduated from a micro to atleast a medium enterprise.
As in customization of clothing another advantage is that even if a small portion of a retailer’s goods are made on-demand, it could slash some of their costs, since there would be no risk of getting stuck with inventory that customers did not like.
Diteko says customizing is a great way to make plain shoes look more interesting and unique. It is also a great way to bring life back into an old pair of shoes.
“Before I actually customize a shoe I draw it out. I found that designing footwear was a way to express my individuality, and the exclusivity of personalizing each pair fueled my passion for learning and perfecting the craft behind it,” he said.
He says one must make sure that the shoes are clean first before doodling.
Diteko cautions those that are interested in customising their shoes that they need to plan ahead as lack of planning could mean ruining the shoes.
“And one must make sure the items used are waterproof, including the glue. He ends his interview by saying to budding entrepreneurs, “follow your heart, do what you love.”