How Esjay is making a statement through their sportswear

The women behind the Esjay online store

In South Africa we are fortunate to have a wide variety of artistic individuals who are able to make a living selling their craft. While PayFast has a number of such merchants that have partnered with us as their online payments solution, one that stands out for their unique product offering is Esjay, an online store based in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Sarah Bingham established Esjay in 2015 as an online outlet where she could design, create and sell limited edition sportswear ranges that are not only beautiful and of high quality, but which also have an important story behind every print. Sarah is hands-on and responsible for running the company, doing everything from sourcing fabric, liaising with artists to design prints, responding to emails, processing orders and packing them. So literally everything except for running Esjay’s social media pages and sewing.

Building Esjay from the ground up 

“I started Esjay in 2015 with R4,000 I had saved from coaching hockey. I sourced a CMT (cut make and trim) service and purchased a roll of fabric, and mainly sold to friends and family. And it grew from there. The growth has been significant in the last two years, since I started my own manufacturing in January 2019,” said Sarah. 

As an athlete herself, Sarah understands the importance of comfortable, nice looking sportswear to bring out the best in you when working out. Her theory is that if you look good, you feel good, and ultimately you train good. “I strive to design sportswear that is comfortable and snazzy, giving you the ultimate workout experience,” said Sarah. 

While she is thankful for Esjay’s success, Sarah noted that in the company’s early days it was difficult to achieve consistency and high quality when relying on other people. “I had a few bad experiences when relying on others to manufacture, but I was fortunate in acquiring my seamstresses from a CMT that closed down. So my ladies had been sewing Esjay garments and were familiar with the fabric and design,” said Sarah.

One of a kind designs 

What makes Esjay’s clothing so special is that every month or so they release a limited edition range of clothing that has a unique story behind it. Although varied, the ranges often include loose male and female shorts, panelled tights, sports bras, buffs, windbreakers and toddler clothing. 

“I draw inspiration from all around me and I like to use my Esjay platform to start conversations about issues that I feel are important. So some of my designs are produced for specific causes,” said Sarah. 

For example, in September 2019 Esjay released the For Her range which protested against gender-based violence and abuse. Katherine Grace Hall came on board and designed a print that consisted of the faces of a few of the women who fell victim to gender-based violence in South Africa. All the profits from this range went to two organisations that help abused women in their communities.

More recently, there were two ranges that supported animal welfare projects. The first was the SPCA range, where Sarah Allderman created and sponsored adorable black and white dog print that was used for the active wear range. For every item sold, a portion of its funds were donated to the SPCA to help feed and look after the animals in the shelter. Then there was the Rhino range, where a percentage of every sale was donated to the Zululand Rhino Orphanage to assist them in helping baby rhinos who were orphaned by poachers by rehabilitating them back into the wild.

Secure payment processing

When Esjay first went online Sarah chose to integrate with PayFast due to its ease of use and easy integration with Ecwid, the shopping cart platform that her ecommerce store is built on. When a buyer checks out on Esjay, through the PayFast payment gateway they are given the option to pay online via credit & cheque card, Instant EFT, Masterpass or Zapper. “When Esjay launched I chose PayFast as my online payment solution and have never looked back. Esjay has come a long way since then and I’m optimistic about what the future holds for us,” concluded Sarah.

PayFast has helped tens of thousands of South African merchants get paid online. For more information on how PayFast can integrate into your online store, visit www.payfast.co.za.

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