By Mots’elisi Sekonyela
SHIPA, which is a slang word for shop, is a collectable store exclusively for in-demand apparel brands by Basotho creatives. The store was founded by Tokelo Mofokeng in 2016 and has since seen significant success that includes a move from gazebos to a physical store.
In an interview with Informative Newspaper, Mofokeng said SHIPA was founded in 2016 by himself and a group of friends who all had clothing brands as he also owns one called “Sqo”. The idea came about as a result of the difficulty they encountered in making their apparel widely and easily accessible.
SHIPA started as a pop-up store where they used gazebos to display their apparel at events and at busy streets in towns. Seeing that they had difficulty in keeping in touch with their potential customers, they then decided to create a website so their clothing items could be shopped online. This he says significantly increased sales as people all across the country and even abroad could access their apparel.
However, just an online store and pop-up stores seemed not to be enough for the kind of returns they hoped for, therefore the founders decided to open a physical store in the Maseru CBD where every day, buyers can just walk in, select their item of choice on the shelf from the many local wear brands available in store.
Currently, the store has up to eight brands that supply them with their apparel to resell and among these are household brands like City Kings, Bonono, Joachim and Sqo which are also their best-selling.
Mofokeng says the criteria they use to select brands to display on their store shelves is purely based on how well the brand is performing in the market.
“We want to work with easily marketable brands that already have significant clientele. We are a business that has bills and employees to pay, we cannot just fill up our shelves with apparel that will not sell,” he said.
However, he added that they also try to feature small and growing brands in their pop-up events where they allow them to showcase their apparel to SHIPA’s market.
The store has three ways in which they collaborate with brands; the first is reselling apparel at retail brand prices and taking a share of 15% from each items sold, the second is buying clothing at stock prices from brands then reselling at retail prices in store, and the last is an agreement where the store subsidizes production costs and shares equal profits with the brand.
Through their online store, SHIPA has penetrated global market up to countries like India and China where they have regular clients that keep up with the new releases in store.
At the moment, the store has three full time employees, being the storekeeper, graphic designer and web designers.
Mofokeng says there are big future plans in the pipeline for the store. They want to grow their reach by having more physical stores countrywide and even abroad. They also are looking to work with more growing brands in the future.