Connect with us

Snapshots

Zollanvari SA: Siphiwo Shabangu

Carpet seller from Soweto builds one of the top names in fine Persian rugs

Monique Verduyn

Published

on

Siphiwo Shabangu of Zollanvari

It was at an international trade fair for the carpet and floor coverings industry in Germany that Siphiwo Shabangu found his fortune. The year was 1996 and he had been invited to attend a management training course in Europe, courtesy of the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which had recognised his entrepreneurial spirit.

While there, he decided to visit Domotex. The fair was huge, and the wall-to-wall carpet salesperson from Dobsonville was tired. He took a seat outside a stall that was selling oriental rugs made by nomads from the south of Iran. The Zollanvari family was intrigued – they had not seen many black people in their lives, and so they struck up a conversation with him.

When they discovered that he came from“Mandela’s country”, they were eager to talk about business.“I knew nothing about Persian carpets, but they gave me a mandate to go home and research the South African market,” says Shabangu.

What he did know about though, was the art of selling. As a child, Shabangu had bought his own clothes and put himself through school by trading in sweets and peanuts on street corners and selling newspapers over the weekend. On completing high school, he did a series of business courses through the University of South Africa, applying these learnings to his own small carpet store.

Shabangu ran the numbers and subsequently invited the Zollanvari family to exhibit at Decorex a year later. “That was a great success, and with the stock that remained, I opened a Zollanvari shop in Rosebank. The Zollanvaris gave me stock for a year and R1 million in start-up funding.”

Ten years on, he imports carpets to the value of R24 million a year and plans to expand his high-end flooring stores into Africa, starting with Botswana and Namibia. Ask Shabangu why the family decided to trust him with money and stock and he cannot answer.

“Luckily, our customer base grew quickly and we were able to cover all our expenses. We had good times and bad, but we began to make a solid profit two years later when we opened in Cape Town. Two years after that, we set up shop in Durban.”

He is quick to point out that planned growth is essential for any business that does not want to stagnate. It’s one of the reasons why he moved Zollanvari to its 500 m2 showroom in Bryanston two years ago.Zollanvari’s growth has been organic, with Shabangu ploughing profits back into it, particularly in the early years.

“If you run a business you believe in,” he says, “it’s enough to break even at the outset, while you are establishing a name in the market. What is equally important is to have a budget and stick to it.”What differentiates Zollanvari from other Persian rug retailers in the country? “It’s the uniqueness and beauty of our products,” says Shabangu.

“The 100% wool tribal rugs are handmade and the designs differ from the traditional style as they are highly contemporary, a factor which has made them world renowned. When you buy a Zollanvari, you make an investment in the ancient Persian tradition of carpet weaving, but you also buy a product that is fashionable and modern at the same time.”

He attributes much of the growth of the business to word of mouth and great customer service. “We go out of our way to ensure that we find exactly what the customer is looking for, which is why we work with some of the country’s top interior designers.”

Shabangu believes in advertising and Zollanvari has displayed its wares in many of South Africa’s décor magazines. More recently, he has engaged a public relations consultant to help the company become more strategic about its marketing and publicity.

Like most successful entrepreneurs, Shabangu says success comes from hard work and just a little bit of good fortune. “There are no shortcuts to success, but I believe that a good business education is very helpful because it enables you to understand the basics.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

Snapshots

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

Live free of the opinion of other, but always in service, is one of the key principles Pat Pillai lives by.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-design-pat-pillai

Pat Pillai, is a social entrepreneur who after being a national news anchor for 15 years, is founder and CEO of LifeCo UnLtd SA, which invests in impact entrepreneurs and impact enterprises. LifeCo UnLtd SA has benefited over 112 000 beneficiaries in SA (5000 are young entrepreneurs; 124 are established adult entrepreneurs, of those 76 are impact/social entrepreneurs).

Related: Mike Sharman Talks About Retroviral’s Successful Campaigns And The Importance Of Social Media In Marketing

Continue Reading

Snapshots

How Mark van Diggelen Pivoted To Create A Global Gaming Platform

“The day you stop getting enquiries about your product, you’re know you’re on the wrong track,” says Mark van Diggelen, CEO of GameZBoost.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-designs-mark-van-diggelen

Mark van Diggelen is the CEO of GameZBoost, they created a white label mobile gaming platform that is currently deployed in 45 countries around the world. In addition, Mark’s mobile gaming tournaments have taken the industry by storm.

 

Related: Eben Uys Shares His Concept Behind Mad Giant Brewery And How You Can Make Your Business Stand Out In A Crowd

 

Continue Reading

Snapshots

Regine Le Roux Shares Why You Need To Be Proactively Managing Your Reputation

How and why you should be proactively manage your reputation and why it has nothing to do with marketing or PR.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-designs-regine-le-roux

Regine Le Roux is founder of Reputation Matters, and she has been looking after company’s reputations for over a decade. Regine also published her first book aptly titled ‘Reputation Matters’ the building blocks to becoming the business people want to do business with.

Related: Vuyo Tofile Of EntBanc Group Talks About Finding Solutions And Partnering To Offer The Most Value

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending