Starting your own business doesn’t have to be as daunting as you’d imagine. Heather Moore, owner of decor brand Skinny laMinx, and Efi Dahan, General Manager for PayPal (Africa & Israel) share their top tips about going about it
When and how was Skinny laMinx launched?
Heather: Our story started in 2008 when I began hand printing tea towels and cushion covers in a small studio on Long Street in Cape Town. I opened a shop on Etsy Handmade and started selling my products to customers all over the world. Pretty soon the first wholesale order come in from Heath Ceramics in San Francisco and my hobby had become a full time business.
On the back of our growing international success, we decided to bring the brand home and in 2011, we opened a bricks and mortar store on Cape Town’s Bree St, with our working studio above the shop. Here’s where we employ ten people, in addition to our team of skilful seamstresses cutting and sewing up our goods. We also set up our own local and international online shops, powered by Shopify.
Describe the brand and designs
H: Skinny laMinx is a homeware brand that’s all about pattern, colour and mid-century style, with a dose of African chic for good measure.
Although our designs are not trends-driven, nor do they cater to popular taste, Skinny laMinx is an accessible brand. I think this is because I enjoy sharing insights into the inspiration and process behind my designs. This storytelling also turns my otherwise isolated role as a designer in the studio into a friendly, people-centred occupation.
How has using PayPal benefited Skinny laMinx?
H: Since starting the business, most of our international payments have been processed via Paypal. It integrates easily and seamlessly with both the Etsy and Shopify platforms, and a lot of our wholesale customers find it more convenient to use than setting up international wire transfers. We’ve found that all sorts of customers use PayPal, from youngsters to whom it is second nature, to older generation shoppers who use it as a safe way to pay via credit card.
What makes PayPal such a convenient online payment method?
Efi: PayPal provides a simple, easy and secure way to shop online and pay on millions of websites around the world. The platform doesn’t share full financial information with sellers when authorising a transaction, so consumers can be confident that their financial details are kept secure. PayPal also offers Buyer Protection for eligible purchases, meaning that customers are protected in cases where the purchased goods didn’t reach them or are not as advertised*. To enhance PayPal’s offering and further eliminate consumer barriers, we recently launched a new service called “Refunded Return” in South Africa. With this service, shoppers can return items paid for via PayPal and get their return shipping fees covered by us, no matter the reason. As long as the customer follows the return policy of the merchant, PayPal can cover their return up to R400**.
Can payments be accepted from anywhere in the world?
E: PayPal is a key enabler in global commerce, with over 188 million active customers, and more than 14 million merchants accepting PayPal payments. Our goal is to help consumers shop online globally, with greater ease and more security, as well as helping businesses move away from cash-only sales.
What’s in it for small business owners?
E: E-commerce allows for small businesses to open their doors with much smaller start-up costs. This promotes job creation and entrepreneurship locally, all of which boosts local economies. By using PayPal, small business owners can now operate on an international scale, taking advantage of global scale and reaching a much larger customer pool.
E-commerce helps to eliminate physical borders for many business owners, which increases access to goods and helps lower prices for the benefit of consumers.
What’s next for Skinny la Minx?
H: We’ll be exhibiting at Maison et Objet in Paris in September, and we launch a bespoke collaborative fabric range with Heath Ceramics in October. We always have something new up our sleeve.
Any words of comfort for those hesitant to shop online?
E: Recent research shows that 57% of internet users already shop online. It also found that shipping costs and concerns about receiving the items purchased from a cross border seller remain the biggest barriers for those shopping online. Nearly 50% of respondents said that these issues were their top concerns when shopping online. In these situations, PayPal’s Buyer Protection and Refunded Return added values reassure consumers and help reduce their concerns.
Another major concern both for existing online shoppers revolves around security of payments. 47% of research respondents who are yet to shop online, pointed that fear of fraud and identity theft is one of the main things that deters them from starting to make these purchases. However, with PayPal customers feel more at ease as they know that PayPal keeps their information protected by using powerful encryption methods.