Meet Noluvuyo

Some time ago, I met Siphosethu and we touched a bit on how parents often struggle to see or understand how creative-based qualifications or careers, can secure a good financial standing. Over the next few weeks I’m going to unpick this industry along with its various career options to shed a little light on each career option in this industry. 

I ‘e-met’ (met over email) Noluvuyo Cakwebe earlier this year when I was sourcing clothes and shoes for a photo-shoot, and with her willingness to help, without knowing me from a bar of soap, I could simply not forget her! So when I started this journey of finding out more about this industry, I immediately thought of her!

When Noluvuyo isn’t in the kitchen, (which she loves), cooking up something delicious to share with her friends and family, she tries to keep up with her love of running. She enters as many running events as she can, and in the few minutes she has for herself, she is always sewing up something for herself or her friends.

KS: My series of articles on fashion-related careers is aimed at educating people about the various career options they have with a fashion qualification. Would you say that someone who also has a National Diploma in Fashion has other options, besides being a Fashion Designer?
NC: Most definitely, most people think that Fashion ends with being a Fashion Designer, pattern maker or fabric cutter, but it is broader than that. One can go into Procurement - buying, sourcing, retail planning, retail – visual merchandising, sales, store management, personal shopper/stylist, editorial assistant, quality assurance and warehouse assistant/ manager.

KS: Yes! I totally agree, being a fashion designer is not the only option! I understand that you’re a Merchandise Coordinator, please tell the readers a little more about your position.
NC: I am the Merchandise Coordinator for the Men’s Fashion department, at Spitz, and my role entails; me assisting the Buyer with raising orders, liaising with suppliers and the marketing department, managing and receiving of department samples, compiling trends & competitor reports, compiling & analysing sales and month-end reports.

KS: And how did you get into this career?
NC: I studied a National Diploma in Fashion and further completed a certificate in Wholesale & Retail Buying & Planning. I studied at the University of Johannesburg, and got my certificate in Wholesale & Retail Buying & Planning at EDCON under SETA.

KS: What does your typical day look like?
NC: It is nothing like a picture from the Devil Wears Prada! I come in every morning to catch up on emails relating to stock deliveries, costings for stock that is due to arrive at the warehouse and ensuring that we are receiving stock at a good margin and good price. I analyse daily sales by identifying good & best sellers (stock that’s selling well or badly) for my brands.

KS: Alright and how would you combat the poorly performing stock? How do help them perform better?
NC: As much as we try to buy styles that are based on current fashion trends and sales history, it is sometimes hard to nail the sales we project, so we analyse what the possible reasons could be. For instance, it could be a certain style detail that could have been in fashion but doesn’t seem appealing to our target market. Other instances could be price-points; we may be highly priced compared to our competitors and need to reduce the price. Sometimes we may have missed opportunities in allocating stock to the correct stores, so we move the styles to stores that are performing better.

KS: With our South African economy and unemployment looking very bleak, would you say that a career in fashion offers possibility of entrepreneurship for graduates?
NC: Yes, I believe anyone can start any business with the use of their hands and minds. One could venture into making simple things such as handbags, accessories, clothing or curtains, to having a business that sources t-shirts, work wear, and small corporate gifts. Nowadays, most people are even making money from blogging in their spare time and selling a variety of products over social platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook.
However, one should never underestimate the advantage of working for someone, if you have a dream of starting your own business one day. You get to absorb a lot of skills and knowledge, especially if you are intending on starting a business in the same industry. Experience can go a long way.

KS: What would your advice be to scholars who want to follow a fashion-related career?
NC: This might sound cliché, but I have always known I would end up in the fashion industry since I was a little girl. One has to have a passion for the ever-changing trends, be creative and highly driven. You have to be able to work efficiently on your own, work smart and plan your week in order to make necessary deadlines. One has to have a sharp eye for detail, in ensuring that you don’t miss anything crucial. Breaking into the industry is tough and competitive, but if you have a vision of where you want to be in the future, your career journey will be enjoyable and fruitful. Have fun in exploring other career paths that you could possibly have interest in the near future, never limit your abilities!

KS: Do you have any advice for the parents of the scholars wanting to follow a career in fashion?
NC: I have always appreciated how my mother supported me, from the day I told her what I wanted to study in varsity (fashion). There is a lot pressure in delivering what is needed, especially when your child has more than 6 subjects in one semester. They will need support in advising them on how to manage their time, with school and their social life. Parents should prepare themselves of unforeseen expenses for projects and fabrics. With so many activities and promotions that are held on campus, they give your child an opportunity to make extra money.

So now we know a little more about being a Merchandise Coordinator, keep an eye out for the next fashion related career option I'll be exploring.