By now you ladies and gents should know that I have a great eye at spotting good quality, trendy, affordable and great pieces to complete your wardrobe capsule. I first spotted RIGHTLAND , when it popped up on my feed on Instagram. What caught my eye, a brand that caters for all shapes and sizes, but mostly its uniqueness and authenticity. Of course I just had to get an interview with the creators and its such a pleasure to introduce you to, Balki Yaheda and Gerrit Hahn.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Gerrit, I am one of the founders of RIGHTLAND. I actually have a background in photography and filmmaking. After I moved to South Africa a few years ago I started working for a local fashion brand here in JHB to run their marketing department and set up their E-Commerce business. I met my co-founder Balki many years ago in Cape Town during a photoshoot and we ran into each other again in Joburg. She had become a stylist and lecturer at a fashion school here in the meantime and we decided to join forces.
When did you start RIGHTLAND , and why?
I started working on the concept in 2017. Balki and I founded the business together in March 2018 and we launched with the first brands in August 2018. Our goal is to create a business that pioneers a new way of doing business in Africa. We have seen all the mistakes that have been made all over the world – amongst others in the textile industry. It is one of the most pollutants releasing industries in the world and responsible for a lot of poverty. We would like to be part of a necessary change by helping with the creation of sustainable, local labour and nurturing a lifestyle that doesn’t accept luxury that is created with the sweat and blood of people in low-wage countries. The creative potential here in South Africa is huge and I don’t see any reason why we would import cheap designs in a bad quality instead of making it ourselves.
Describe RIGHTLAND in five words.
Does the name have any meaning?
The name RIGHTLAND has no actual meaning. We’ve been looking for something that reflects the type of brand we want to be – and the people behind it. So a place that Does its best to do things the “right way”…..
What challenges have you faced whilst running your company thus far?
Oh there are too many to list them all 🙂 Many small ones from technical issues or hiccups with service providers – or load shedding at the moment – to disputes within the team, financial hardships or ideas that don’t work out as they should have.
How do you overcome these challenges?
I believe that going back to your original motivation is a good recipe to calm down and look at the path you’ve walked already. Then, allowing yourself and others to make mistakes is crucial, as long as you get up and do it better next time. I have a strong tactical approach to the things I do and that includes to review and improve all parts of a system continuously.
What do you love about owning your own business?
In this specific case, I love the freedom to do something in a “good” way. For our customers, for our suppliers, for our employees and for ourselves. This is my time I am spending, I want my workplace to be my home, and the people I spend my time with to be my family, and create the same space for them. Bringing the proof that this idea actually works is a great challenge and I love working on it.
Which job title best describes you?
While I am the managing director of the company, I am switching roles all the time throughout the day. You’ll find me on the live chat with customers, email with a developer, on the phone with the courier, edit images for Facebook or actually packing an order.
How many days per week do you work on average?
Name three things that you can’t go a day without and that help you run your business.
All the people that support and believe in us
The 30 odd tools and apps we are using to stay organised
Deep sleep and strong coffee
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own business or brand?
Start right now. See how it goes. Change what doesn’t work. Be patient. Don’t wait for things to happen by themselves or for money to fall from the sky.
Do you feel like you are living your passion?
Yes… Everyday! Even though we face many challenges and obstacles, the positive feedback reminds us why we started and have to carry on.
Is there anything you know now, that you wish you knew when you started your business?
Money doesn’t fall from the sky 😉 Starting a new brand is a lot of hard work, and sometimes I am glad that I didn’t know how hard it actually is.
Which people have been enormously helpful to you?
Both our families and partners and friends have been extremely supportive and patient – and still are- Without our third partner, who believed in RIGHTLAND before anyone else, we would not be here. And of course the leap of faith of the designers and brands we are working with, who trusted us when there wasn’t even a website we’ve been able to show them.
Who is your target market? If I were to give you a referral, who would I be looking for?
Women who enjoy looking and feeling good.
Any future plans with the brand?
There are big plans in place and we’re taking it one step at a time. We hope to expand, see the team grow and be a leading online fashion retailer.
A little fashion shoot and some of my favorite pieces
Intrigued? I think yes! RIGHTLAND has so much more to offer, so please head on over to their website. Click here