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Honey Fashion Accessories: Gary Carlisle & Margot Bredenkamp

The fact that it’s been often said makes it no less true: passion is the secret ingredient that makes good ideas great. That has been the experience of Gary Carlisle and Margot Bredenkamp, and their dynamic team of honey fashion accessories sales consultants

Entrepreneur

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Gary Carlisle & Margot Bredenkamp of Honey Fashion Accessories

Ironically, Honey Fashion Accessories was founded on the back of Gary Carlisle’s frustration. With 10 years’ experience in the jewellery industry, he’d grown tired of dealing with retailers rather than consumers. “Most of my aggravation was caused by the fact that, although we’d take great care to present our jewellery as a collection, retailers would stock our earrings but not the matching necklace and bracelet.

Worse still, if they did buy more than one item, they would dilute the power of the collection by scattering the pieces randomly rather than displaying them as a unit,” he says.

Carlisle had a hunch that he would be able to sell far more jewellery if he could present his collection to the consumers themselves. He was right: the first jewellery party, where a group of friends was invited to experience the range, was an instant success.

Carlisle established Honey on the strength of that party. He joined forces with Margot Bredenkamp, and the two have proved a formidable team: she takes care of merchandising and manages the sales team, while he keeps an eye on sales and marketing. E

leven years later, Honey continues to spell sweet success. Says Carlisle: “When we first started the business, we didn’t have the money to produce a catalogue. After three years, we brought out our first 24-page booklet. Now, we produce one catalogue every six weeks, and they usually run into hundreds of pages.”

They are constructed around certain themes, ranging from handbags and sunglasses to classic wear and fashion jewellery. This ensures that sales consultants always have something new to show their clients.

Today, Honey still hosts regular client days where visitors can try on the jewellery, but as much as 80% of all sales are made through catalogues. It doesn’t mean that the importance of the sales consultant has diminished. In fact, Carlisle attributes Honey’s status as a household name to the company’s extensive network of consultants.

“This business has been built on the strength of relationships: those between the team leader and her consultants, and the consultants and their clients,” he says. It’s clearly a system that works: there are 9 500 sales consultants throughout the country, with a few located in Botswana and Namibia, and each has roughly 30 clients.

Almost 75% of them are active every month. Carlisle explains it’s up to the team leaders to recruit and screen their sales consultants. “What’s important for us is that everyone involved with this company is passionate – passionate about the product, about making a success of themselves and about being an entrepreneur,” he says.

Nor is it difficult to find people with the right level of enthusiasm. “We recruit constantly. It’s so easy: people invariably comment on the jewellery our team leaders wear. From there, they become interested in taking a brochure and showing their friends.”

If the offer of making good money while running their own business isn’t enough – some sales consultants report turnovers of over R1 million rand, they’re usually impressed by the fact that there are no joining costs beyond an initial R65 fee.

And if consultants don’t make it past what Carlisle refers to as Challenge One – falling in love with the product, that money is immediately refunded. From there, consultants find their business to be largely self-funding.

Carlisle reveals that training and motivation are a major part of the Honey philosophy. Different training programmes are offered for both team leaders and sales consultants, who are trained directly by their leaders. This training is supported by regular meetings with the company’s executives.

“We try to make training fun because selling must be fun. It should be about encouraging a woman to try this necklace with these earrings or that bracelet, enjoying herself while she finds the perfect combination.”

Once the skills are in place, sales consultants are egged on by the promise of great incentives; for example, one group of consultants has recently been treated to a trip to Bali. Carlisle has no ambitions to make Honey the biggest or most successful company in South Africa.

Rather, his vision is to make women look and feel beautiful. Easy enough with Honey’s range of well-priced accessories, and a goal which is, in itself, the key to further success. “We want to target every South African woman who enjoys looking good, from the teenager who wants a trendy necklace to the 65-year-old looking for a classic pair of pearls,” he says.

With Honey’s products already in high demand, the question is one of growing sales networks to make the company’s range more accessible, rather than trying to increase brand awareness. “The company has already sustained 50% year-on-year growth, so the key to further expansion lies in increasing our network,” says Carlisle.

He adds that this growth is likely to follow an organic path; every time a sales consultant is promoted to team leader, she appoints more consultants who, in turn, introduce more clients to the Honey fold. “We have not yet reached even 30% of the women in South Africa, so the opportunities facing the company are unbelievable,” he concludes.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.

Nicole Crampton

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Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.

To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:

  1. Livestock Wealth
  2. The Lazy Makoti
  3. Aerobuddies
  4. Mimi Women
  5. i-Pay
  6. AfriTorch Digital
  7. Akili Labs
  8. Native Décor
  9. Aerobotics
  10. Quality Solutions
  11. EM Guidance
  12. Kahvé Road
  13. HSE Matters
  14. VA Virtual Assistant
  15. Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
  16. BioTech Africa
  17. Brand LAIKI
  18. Plus Fab
  19. LifeQ
  20. Organico
  21. 10dot
  22. Lenoma Legal
  23. Nkukhu-Box
  24. Benji + Moon
  25. Beonics
  26. Brett Naicker Wines
  27. Khalala
  28. Legal Legends
  29. The Power Woman Project
  30. Aviro Health
  31. AnaStellar Brands
  32. Data Innovator
  33. Fo-Sho
  34. Oolala Collection Club
  35. Recomed
  36. VoiceMap
  37. ClockWork
  38. Empty Trips
  39. Vula Mobile
  40. SwiitchBeauty
  41. Pineapple
  42. The Katy Valentine Collection
  43. OfferZen
  44. KHULA
  45. Incitech
  46. Pimp my Book
  47. ART Technologies and ART Call Management
  48. Prosperiprop
  49. WAXIT
  50. The Sun Exchange
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