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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

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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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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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