The festive season is creeping ever closer and while you may not be racking your brains on your festive season shopping just yet, we thought we’d make things easier with our next incredible merchant story on Native Decor. It was founded in 2015 by Vusani Ravele and since then has grown to become a must-have in home decor products (a perfect gift).
Being a PayFast client, we caught up with Vusani to get the scoop on his entrepreneurship journey so far. Native Decor started from humble beginnings when Vusani received a cordless drill as a Valentine’s Day gift and proceeded to drill into things. That led to a purchase of a CNC machine off Gumtree. This machine enabled Vusani to take his designs to the next level, but it also led to a near eviction from his apartment due to the machine being housed in his living room and the noise level not to the other resident’s liking. Luckily, he persevered (and was not kicked out).
What makes Native Decor unique are its designs and how multiple pieces fit together to create a whole. Vusani explains that his designs came from the limitations of his CNC machine. The machine can only cut elements out in 2D so Vusani had to figure out how to put things together. Our favourite designs are his animal wine holders
“I wanted to show diversity in my designs and some African flair and thought that it would be cool to have a gifting product that went with wine in that regard.”
Well, we are certainly sold! The products are playful and all flat pack which makes delivery and storage a dream.
If Native Decor’s products are ringing a bell it’s probably because you’ve seen them on Shark Tank South Africa. Vusani took part in the show and came away with a lucrative deal from an impressive pitch. When asked about the experience he said:
“It was life-changing and nerve-wracking! The experience itself was very validating and helped me realize that I really can do whatever I set my mind to. I walked away with a lucrative investment deal with Gil Oved of The Creative Counsel”.
This experience helped Native Decor really grow and this led to an online store where customers can buy Vusani’s products using a variety of methods. Vusani explains that when setting up an online store your “images are your sales pitch and you cannot skimp on these”. He also stresses the importance of a physical presence in as many places as possible like markets, expos and small boutiques to get your product or service out there. However, be careful of big retailers as they “can sink your business very quickly”.
Native Decor is a shining example of where perseverance can take you (literally from a lounge to a fully fledged business). Vusani states that the most rewarding thing about running his own business is that he gets to leave his mark as an expert in his field, and he makes people happy every day which makes his mission really worthwhile.
For entrepreneurs just starting out, Vusani says start small. First prove your concept by investing your own money into your venture and show that people are willing to pay for your offering. This may take time but keep going and most importantly:
“If you furiously continue to shovel coal into the furnace, eventually the train will start to gather momentum. The first few shovels will be the heaviest and take the longest, so put your back into it!”
We really couldn’t have put it better ourselves so take a leaf out of Vusani’s book and get going.