Friends give local designers a platform

NowNow founders Eohan Lakey and Liam McMaster.

After matriculating last year, two Rondebosch friends decided to take a gap year to pursue a dream one of them had in Grade 10.

The former Rondebosch Boys’ High School pupils, Eohan Lakey and Liam McMaster, started NowNow, an online store dedicated to locally designed fashion.

Eohan got the idea, after completing a class project while in Grade 10 which dealt with market structures.

“It was then, that I realised the retail sector was dominated by the larger stores and there was very little room for local designers to break through the market,” he says.

After sitting on the idea for a while and doing some research, he approached Liam, in Grade 11 and the two decided to give it a go.

Eohan says the concept behind the store was to keep things simple and provide an easy connection for the local designer and customer.

“Local designers often have to sell through their social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram and at markets. Our store provides one platform where you can find everything,” he says.

As for sourcing designers, Liam says a lot of it was based on simply going out and interacting with people.

Eohan says they drew inspiration from YDE and Asos, but decided to stick to one area which they would describe as street/casual wear.

“Our future goal is to expand the store, but we want to start off with the basics and try to grow the brand first.”

A lot of their stock is simple T-shirts and jerseys. Their “makeshift” office is at Liam’s home and the two often find themselves working well beyond regular office hours.

“We have days where we take breaks, but we’ll constantly be on the phone, whether it’s trying to find a new designer or working on marketing plans,” says Liam.

Eohan says people often don’t realise the amount of work that goes into creating the platform.

“People think that it’s a very easy job, just running an online store, but there are so many other finer details that we have learnt during this time.”

Liam says they too have caught the design bug and have been working on their own designs in the background.

“It’s still early days, but we have been designing even though we don’t have any formal training, but we have learnt a lot over the past year.”

Eohan says there are many talented local designers out there but people simply aren’t aware of them.

“The quality is there, but the opportunities are not. Some of the designers have a good local following, but it’s about getting their brand known internationally.

“Our goal is to build a name for ourselves overseas, which will hopefully filter through to South Africa.”

On the other hand, Liam says, there are many people who like what they do but still prefer to buy international brands.

While the two are committed to running the store, they plan to study further next year.

Eohan says the response has been overwhelming – with people coming up to them telling them how they have inspired them.

“We never thought that what we created would have such a profound impact on people. I didn’t realise that an idea I had a few years ago would firstly, come to fruition and secondly have this impact.”

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