Sun SurPrise: Chene & Jean-Jacques Joubert

Sun SurPrise: Chene & Jean-Jacques Joubert


1. Bright idea

“I’d been saying to my son, Jean-Jacques, for a few years that I wanted to start a business, but we hadn’t found something that we loved. Then in December 2011 we went on a cruise around the Caribbean and before we came back we wanted to buy friends and family souvenirs. We came across a Del Sol shop and were amazed that the clothes and accessories change colour in the sun!  We wanted to buy everything,” Chene recalls, laughing. “Then Jean-Jacques said, ‘Hey, why don’t we bring this to South Africa?’ We discovered no one was doing this in South Africa and we saw our big chance.”

2. Local shores

In January 2012 Chene decided to start the business with Jean-Jacques – who is studying marketing – as a partner. “We signed exclusive distribution in February for South Africa and Africa and began playing with ideas for sales and marketing.”

Jean-Jacques does the market research, sales and social media management, bringing a youthful energy and new ideas to the business, while Chene has sales and customer relations experience. “It’s been interesting to see my son as a business partner,” Chene smiles. “It was strange at first calling my mom by her name when with clients too,” Jean-Jacques laughs.

3. Cloudy skies

Like many new entrepreneurs, Chene has experienced common start-up challenges. Unlike her former corporate job, as a business owner she suddenly had to be aware of and do many more things. “We didn’t realise that some of the locations we want to open shops in have a long waiting list and lots of red tape.”

Jean-Jacques points out that many locals also lack brand awareness: “When they look at a shop display they don’t know that the items change colours in UV light. So our job is to demonstrate this and teach them about the brand. Then they get excited.”

4. Business model

While the Jouberts wait for retail space at uShaka, OR Thambo and Monte Casino to become available, they already operate a store in Fontainbleau that has a pool, space to entertain and will soon have a coffee shop.

“We are also involved with direct selling with agents and distributors in several provinces, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, we have e-commerce, a corporate branding and golf day revenue stream, and existing retailers stock our products for local and international customers,” Chene explains.

5. Sunny days

Sun SurPrise currently employs five staff and Chene hopes to double this in 2013. “We’re looking for distributors and sales reps because we’re focused on selling the concept and creating brand awareness.“

So what makes colour-changing clothes and accessories more than a novelty? “It’s a quality, lifestyle product,” says Chene. “Every quarter Del Sol creates new designs so we can modify to suit the wants of the tourist, corporate as well as local market.”

Vital stats

Players: Chene & Jean-Jacques Joubert

Company: Sun SurPrise Launched: August 2012

Concept: Colour-changing clothes and accessories

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Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.