Now I don’t know about you, but I love finding something new. I mean, if it’s straight out of the box, never been touched or used, I’m in. I could do cartwheels every time I found something new, a thousand times over if that thing was locally made. That’s because South Africa’s love of importing toothpicks and everything else big or small from China, has deprived our economy. We have lost jobs, development opportunities and our sanity. It’s true. Just look at our politics! Every job created by local businesses really matters and subsequently deserves a cartwheel or two! However, I never learnt how to do a cartwheel during my youngling days, so we’ll just leave that there and forget about my sad and lonely childhood….[side note: my childhood was actually pretty fabulous lol].
What We Found in Local Businesses
Drum role please……It’s the very cute active wear from LaraFay Activewear. They’re in Cape Town and we all know they must be pretty darn good if they’re in Cape Town right!? Now, I’ll be honest, as a black girl, what first drew me to the site wasn’t actually the outfits. Yes they have pretty looking, newly discovered and brand spanking new products on their site and Insta page. What attracted me though was actually the female model with the big bushy hair. Let me explain why in one word (then blab in 10000000 words lol). “INCLUSION.” Let’s face the facts. With all the government hand outs; the excluded majority is still barely learning how to successfully create their own.
A lack of inclusion paired with the government’s inability to adequately provide and allocate the proper services needed to alleviate poverty; the not included majority will never learn. They’ll never know the responsibilities and perks of being an inclusive, thriving local business. And if anyone needs a better understanding of what successful inclusion looks like, take a look at the Kardashian clan and their riches. Let’s just say that if it were not for inclusion, there would be no Kardashians. If yo don’t believe me I dare you to check the data. The numbers don’t lie.
Now I don’t want to be that one lady in the group who always brings race in to every conversation. So please just indulge me for a sec. Just a quick sec…
Above is that one pic that sold me on the LaraFay active wear. The hair and skin tone did it for me!
Now I just need to get active and maybe try their merchandise on these double d’s. The girls and I have been failed in the past. Many claimed they’d always support and lift us up when we were down. Maybe we were too much to handle?! I don’t know, but as for LaraFay, everything else looks to be on point!
The Race Card in Local Businesses!
Now back to the race thing. With the rise of the Black Diamonds (black middle class) their spending power and habits have done the most. However, with being a Black Diamond comes a lot of responsibilities and new territories to explore. These often include the sudden need/responsibility to help their communities to like themselves, come up too, by supporting local business. In most cases this would mean supporting predominantly black owned businesses because let’s face it, it is very much necessary.
But now this is where it becomes tricky for the Black Diamonds. Do I support a well established business hiring workers from my neighborhood? Or?! Do I rather go with one that is less experienced/organized simply because it is based in my neighborhood? These are often the pertinent questions which leave many Black Diamonds puzzled/torn? For us at Hoodz.co.za the answer is quite simple! Going with the business which directly impacts your neighborhood is definitely the obvious answer. That would be the local business based in your neighborhood, hiring workers from your neighborhood, minus all the technicalities. We say this because of the ripple effects. When one local business (black owned, township based or not) rises to the top, many others around it follow suit. They feed off each other’s success which can only be sustained by the variety they offer as a collective.
A Thriving Community
This is when the neighborhood starts buzzing. More and more local businesses start coming up. Public involvement pertaining to key issues relating to the neighborhood increases. Problems are solved. The changes which need to take place in the poorer communities start taking place, effortlessly. Simply put, a local business is supported by a community of like-minded customers. They all want the same thing, a thriving community and businesses. Both are sustained by the surrounding local businesses and only thrive when the economy around them begins to thrive.
Inclusion is paramount, but we need to understand that it’s not about providing someone with employment or balancing the race scale for public approval. The larger percentage of people you employ should be the type of people you know will in 2-3 years take the skills they’ve learnt from you and your establishment and replicate them wherever their passions lie. That could be at your establishment, at another or their very own. That’s what a true leader does, seeing beyond themselves, in to the future of generations to come.
The people you choose to employ ought to be your biggest investment as they are the very people we needed for the rebuild of our local economy. Including them means that they learn from you (a well established business); what great customer service looks like, how having systems in place helps the business run smoother, how far paying attention to detail will carry a business and increase customer satisfaction, how clear and frequent communication with a customer will keep them coming back for more etc.
Starting and Running a Local Business
The motive behind starting and running your very own local business shouldn’t just be about the financial independence you gain. However, it should rather be to see more and more local businesses rising from the most unexpected places and seeing our economy thriving. Once upon a time the Rand was worth more than the US Dollar and that could still happen. When local businesses stand together for each other’s success, anything is possible.
So, in conclusion, inclusion is very much necessary in all aspects of society. To LaraFay, y’all did the the things that make the things to be done. I went on your site and felt at home. I felt like part of the fam’ and inspired. It was like some distant aunt I only see emcimbini (family event) was about to walk up to me and offer me the keys to the room with the alcohol…lol. T.I.A! This Is Africa.
Ps: I’m available for an endorsement deal, especially if it only includes me prancing around in your Active Wear. I promise to skip a little bit, squat maybe, a jog-nyana, ok maybe…but those are my t’s and c’s.
xoxo (via social distance)
(Founder and CEO @HOODZ_Africa aka I like literally just work here)