Ricochet News

MBSA hosts Threads' visit to the Eastern Cape

Dec 19, 2017
MBSA hosts Threads' visit to the Eastern Cape

Stitched by Standard Bank, is a 12-week accelerator programme designed to develop fashion entrepreneurs businesses to the point of becoming successful and profitable enterprises.

It is open to fashion entrepreneurs with an existing business operating in South Africa, and focuses on the business operations of fashion enterprise.

As part of the program, regional 2-day field trips are organized where all 12 candidates are taken to a key region of South Africa in an effort to re-instate the "Proudly South African" narrative. On the 11th and 12th December, the first field trip took place in the Eastern Cape and was themed around manufacturing and supply-chain, and was spearheaded by Mercedes-Benz.

The 12 candidates were taken on a visit of the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plant and learnt from their top executives about lean manufacturing in the context of the automotive industry.

"Mercedes-Benz South Africa is committed to the development of local talent and young entrepreneurs.  Our objective with this project and the introduction to our manufacturing process is to inspire these creatives. By providing insights into advanced production systems, they've been equipped with knowledge to build effective and more efficient processes into their own businesses."

The automotive industry has for centuries been top of game when it comes to manufacturing and innovative supply chains, with Mercedes-Benz being one of the leading companies in this field and through this unique field trip experience, the Threads entrepreneurs were taken into the world of Mercedes-Benz assembly systems: from assembly lines visit to body shop developments, no area was left uncovered.

"It was really interesting to see how world-class assembly lines are created, the intricacies of actually building strong production systems was eye-opening, it's excellence all the way" commented Threads entrepreneur and founder of JSE Couture - Jacqui Emmanuel.

This manufacturing excellence within the automotive industry has long been examined by world-class researchers in terms of its applicability to different industries, such as the fashion industry. One of those researchers is Anita Stanbury, former CEO of the SA fashion Council, who hosted a lecture on the application of lean manufacturing techniques to the fashion industry: the example of ZARA.

The visit culminated with an open lecture and Q&A session with renowned designer and friend of Mercedes-Benz, David Tlale, hosted by Threads co-founder, Tania Habimana.

"As designers, we don't realize the power that we hold. Artists, Designers and members of the creative industry have popular culture on its side. We have a strong voice and that's why it's important for us to promote our country and heritage. It's our responsibility to look for what makes us special as creatives, but also as a nation, and be living billboards for our country to the rest of the world. "

Day 2 of the field trip focused on heritage and culture, with goal of helping the entrepreneurs incorporate a "proudly South African" narrative to their businesses. The day was co-hosted with the SA Mohair association and took the entrepreneurs through an exclusive visit and tour of the Mohair sourcing journey at Hinterveld.

"One of the bottlenecks identified for South African designers when it comes to competing in an international landscape is access to unique textiles and fabrics, on the one hand - the ones found in local marketplaces are to widely used amongst local designers and on the other hand, importing foreign fabrics is often times subject to a 40% import duty - capitalizing on locally manufactured unique textiles such as Mohair is a great way to create a competitive advantage as well as support the local textile and apparel industry " co-founder, Tania Habimana

Indeed, as confirmed by SA Mohair representative Anle Marais, in a presentation to the entrepreneurs "49% of the Mohair produced in the world, originates from South Africa. There is a wealth of resources available to our fashion designers just at our footsteps which not only represent our heritage but are sold at premium prices elsewhere"

The day ended with an arts & culture journey in Port Elizabeth Route 67; consisting of 67 Public Art Works symbolising Nelson Mandela's 67 years of work dedicated to the Freedom of South Africa and includes 67 steps leading up the second largest flag in Africa. Before flying back home, the entrepreneurs got to take in the views over Port Elizabeth from the Donkin Reserve.