Braam Heiberg and Divan Botha, the founders of KitOUT, both hold managerial full-time corporate jobs. Divan heads up the BizNetwork platform for FNB, but says his entrepreneurial spirit was already present at an early age when he used to pinch his brothers’ clothes to sell in the streets. He learnt important lessons about choosing the right partners after a property business he started with friends failed a few years ago. Braam, a project manager for an engineering company, has been friends with Divan since their days in res together. He says he has always wanted to have his own business, and when Divan approached him with the idea, he loved the originality and knew they could make it big.
What possessed them?
During the Soccer World Cup last year, Divan, Braam and some friends joined in on the festivities by painting the South African flag on white overalls. People around them loved their ‘outfits’ and were taking photos of the group. They thought of possibly selling adult overalls but after acknowledging that this wouldn’t really work out, Divan looked through old photos of himself as a child and realised that the clothes he wore as a young boy are no longer available. “I lived on a farm, so I didn’t wear normal clothes because they would get ruined. All I wore was an overall that my mom would just hang up and I could wear again the next day,” he explains. This sparked the idea to start manufacturing packs that children could wear on play days.
KitOUT is launching a new brand later this year called JellyPoppers. The premium clothing brand will be aimed at boutiques and feature characters specially designed to instil good values in children. It will include uniquely designed packs, shoes, hats and jackets for boys and girls between two and six years old.
KitOUT currently employs female sales agents on a part-time basis to market the packs to crèches and nursery schools. Apart from selling the packs to schools and parents, KitOUT has also approached corporates to buy them for CSI initiatives.
Divan says: “The packs last longer than T-shirts so they protect the brand and are more functional.” Companies have the option of placing their logos on the packs. KitOUT recently signed a deal to supply one of the major players in the financial services industry.
Finding sales agents has been difficult for the business, despite the lucrative commission structure offered. Some of the other hurdles Divan and Braam have had to deal with include managing cashflow, as they have funded the business entirely from their own salaries, managing stock and finding reliable suppliers who are able to execute according to client requirements.
For Divan and Braam, the aim was never to just make money; they want to make money for doing good. Instead of importing the products from China at half the price, the pair decided to produce and design the packs locally by supporting non-profit organisations. KitOUT uses ladies from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to manufacture and even play a part in designing the clothes.