Thanks to a strong entrepreneurial spirit and an innovative idea, Sanego Motshweni now owns and manages his own online store with a twist; selling the original designs of up and coming South African designers who are struggling to crack the mainstream market.
A product of Daveyton in Benoni, East of Johannesburg, he says that he has always had passion for business. Starting as early as primary school where he used to sell sweets to his peers, his business evolved into a car wash which he ran during school holidays. That business then turned into a Shisa Nyama, which he hosted almost every year in December in addition to selling fireworks for the New-Year festivities.
He recalls how he was exposed to the abundance of clothes on sale in the Joburg CBD in his matric year and says that’s when he got the idea to stock them and sell them in his area for a profit. After graduating matric, Sanego went to study music production in Randburg. Although that time in his life was fun and fuelled by his great love for music, he says that he soon realized that making a career out of it would be tough.
Sanego’s focus then turned to computers, his second love. He enrolled in an IT course at Spring Campus but had to drop out in his second year after he was involved in a car accident. The days following the accident served as a constant reminder that he could die at any moment. He feared dying before he could realize any of his dreams.
As soon as he recovered, he found a job, which he kept for four months just to raise enough capital to buy a laptop and a cell phone. As soon as that happened, he left to start a business. GP Media is only the third venture in Sanego’s line of start-ups though. Black Edicion Entertainment was the first, Vusani Creatives (started by his friends) was the second and GP Media is currently last in line.
There is a lot that goes into running a business and he had certainly learned about that over the years. Before going forward with his idea for GP Media, he enrolled in business classes and learned about taking risks, making wise decisions, handling financials and so forth. In addition to that, he gained acceptance into Y-Age’s youth entrepreneurship program as well as a mentorship program at the Branson Centre.
Reading his entire business history (starting as early as childhood) one would assume that he never finishes anything that he starts but when asked about that, he simply answers “the other start-ups were just practice and research so that I can do better with this. GP store is the real thing.”
The idea had been gathering dust on his bedroom wall, until one day, the opportunity to make something out of it presented itself. His concept for an online store won R10,000.00 start-up capital in a YFM Competition sponsored by Sterie Stumpie. GP Store – a subsidiary of GP Media – is an online store aimed at helping local designers sell their clothes online. It currently operates locally but Sanego expressed the intention to expand globally. GP Store also stocks international brands but local and unknown brands currently take priority.
Sanego describes running GP Store as a learning curve. He recalled a time when the business faced challenges and encountered risks and says that it taught him and his partner how to change the entire business model to combat those problems. They then decided to exclusively stock clothes, shoes, bags and belts.
Another lesson came in the form of their clientele. His initial plan was to target black fashion lovers aged 20 -35 and teach them how to shop online. Through the months of owning GP Store he has discovered that 80% of his customers are white and the rest were people of colour despite him assuming that it would be vice versa. He has also learned that people are still very sceptical about shopping online. This is why he stresses the importance of a retailer or business owner knowing all the necessary laws and protocols to ensure that their clientele’s information and details remain safe. He does not believe in selling their information to third parties.
GP Store currently accepts credit cards, EFT payments and PAYPal but they have not yet made provision for cash-on-delivery as one of those payment methods. He does emphasize that shopping online is cheaper though. This is because the retailer does not have to factor in all the over-head costs that go into the running of a stand-alone store.
In addition to tapping into the international market, Sanego has big plans for GP store – the major revamp he hinted at during our interview is one of them. When I asked him what that entailed, he did not want to give away too much but he stated that he had a photo shoot planned where he would be getting stills of his new merchandise and shoot a promo video in the form of a short fashion film to showcase GP store merchandise in action. Amidst plans of a revamp, he also has plans to liaise with high schools in certain communities to identify deserving students who will win sponsorship of their entire matric dance experience by GP Store. Student cannot apply. Instead, he wants teachers to select who they believe the best students are that cannot afford it to win the sponsorship.
The interview closes with him expressing his plans to build an empire under GP Media. Next in line – after all the changes to GP Store – is GP Events, a website that sells event tickets online. It may sound like any other online ticket store but knowing Sanego, there is a clever twist somewhere within that plan.
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