After completing her studies in information systems at the University of Cape Town in 2001, Nobesuthu Ndlovu started her working career in business analysis in the banking sector, followed by an honours degree in commerce at the University of Johannesburg in 2003, majoring in informatics. Having been part of her father’s “free labour” team during school holidays in her youth, she was naturally inclined to become an entrepreneur. To kick-start the journey she completed a business course with the Gordon Institute of Business Science in 2007.
Ndlovu and her business partner, Nhlanhla Ndlovu, set out to create a platform that would propel South African designer wear to an international advantage, yet also make their product line accessible to local fashionistas. They launched Burgundy Fly without much retail background, but applied the theoretical knowledge from their studies and took the plunge to literally learn on the fly.
The first Burgundy Fly store opened in 2008 in Maponya Mall, followed by a second store in 2012 in The Zone in Rosebank. The Zone operates as their flagship store, with three further stores in located in Greenstone, The Glen and East Rand Mall, which opened in 2015. The brand is fast becoming a favourite with a growing, discerning clientele, and plans are underway to open an additional store in November this year.
According to Ndlovu, Burgundy Fly is the blending of everything regal and quirky. “We are unconventional in our approach to fashion but still take the art seriously,” she says. “The colour ‘Burgundy’ is associated with royalty, and phly or fly which is colloquial for beautiful.
“We started out as a relationship-based business with our suppliers, and intend to continue along this path. We realised that we weren’t going to build strong relationships through formal, minuted meetings,” says Ndlovu. “Working with creative personalities and design professionals needs a different approach, and for this reason we have been running our brand successfully for eight years without a single designer contract.”
The business works with just a few designers, with a strong focus on building mutually beneficial relationships with its suppliers, and with customers who know that Burgundy Fly offers well-designed quality garments that make them feel good and look fantastic, whatever the occasion. Ndlovu is mother to two beautiful daughters, and makes spending time with them her top priority outside of the business. She also practices yoga, and enjoys jamming to music with her husband.
Source: 200 Young South Africans