As mentioned in a previous post, Threads – Stitched by Standard Bank, is a 12-week accelerator programme designed to develop fashion entrepreneur’s businesses to the point of becoming successful and profitable enterprises.

As part of the program, regional 2-day field trips are organized where all 12 candidates are taken to a key region of South Africa in an effort to re-instate the “Proudly South African” narrative. On the 11th and 12th December, the first field trip took place in the Eastern Cape and was themed around manufacturing and supply-chain, and was spearheaded by Mercedes-Benz.

The 12 candidates were taken on a visit of the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plant and learnt from their top executives about lean manufacturing in the context of the automotive industry. I suffered a severe case of envy! :-/

“It was really interesting to see how world-class assembly lines are created, the intricacies of actually building strong production systems was eye-opening, it’s excellence all the way” commented Threads entrepreneur and founder of JSE Couture – Jacqui Emmanuel.

The visit culminated with an open lecture and Q&A session with renowned designer and friend of Mercedes-Benz, David Tlale, hosted by Threads co-founder, Tania Habimana.

David shared his pearls of wisdom with the candidateS, and had this to say:

“As designers, we don’t realize the power that we hold. Artists, Designers and members of the creative industry have popular culture on its side. We have a strong voice and that’s why it’s important for us to promote our country and heritage. It’s our responsibility to look for what makes us special as creatives, but also as a nation, and be living billboards for our country to the rest of the world. ”

Day 2 of the field trip focused on heritage and culture, with goal of helping the entrepreneurs incorporate a “proudly South African” narrative to their businesses. The day was co-hosted with the SA Mohair association and took the entrepreneurs through an exclusive visit and tour of the Mohair sourcing journey at Hinterveld.

The day ended with an arts & culture journey in Port Elizabeth Route 67; consisting of 67 Public Art Works symbolising Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of work dedicated to the Freedom of South Africa and includes 67 steps leading up the second largest flag in Africa. Before flying back home, the entrepreneurs got to take in the views over Port Elizabeth from the Donkin Reserve.

To say the candidates had an insightful and inspiring day would probably be an understatement.

Excited to see what else is in store for them!


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