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Women owned business with a firm belief in “doing good while doing business” - Mzansi Trading
Versand aus Deutschland innerhalb der EU

20

Jul '22

Women owned business with a firm belief in “doing good while doing business”

Who are Mzansi Trading?

Mzansi Trading are Stefanie and Tanja – 2 opposites and best friends. We met working together at a medieval market in Dresden in 2003 and became friends from there onwards. Our love for Africa has developed from childhood and brought us closer together over the years.

What were your lives like before you started Mzansi Trading?

Quiet, peaceful, and predictable. We both went through a period of soul searching and questioning our purpose in life. Just before the Mzansi Kick off we both had radical changes happening: Stefanie had moved back to Leipzig (from Hamburg) and had the opportunity to start a job as Managing Director for a City Marketing firm but declined last minute. (I) Tanja had become a mother and recently returned to work in the middle of the worldwide pandemic. We felt and knew that something was about to change we just didn’t have all the puzzle pieces together. Mzansi Trading was the answer to so many questions and everything seem to fit and make perfect sense from here on.

Can you remember the moment the idea formed in your minds? How did the conversation to launching this business begin?

The idea has been floating around in our heads since our Namibia Trip in 2014. We had been searching for ideas and options on how to do business together with and around Africa since then.

The actual Mzansi Trading idea and reality kick off for the project started during a skype call in March 2021. We used to chat at least once a week in the evening and have hour long calls to each other, drinking wine and talking about everything and dreaming about our work together.

Shopper Bag mit Zeichnung Pink Zebra
Laptophülle Wild Dog Zeichnung

Why bags?

Everybody loves bags!

They are part of your style, your identity and expression of self. It’s an interchangeable accessory – you decide on the day, the mood which one is it going to be. And secondly: you can never have too many! It’s a great consumer good. It also has purpose: in Germany we walk a lot more, taking your shopping home is part of a “Fussgaengerzonen Lifestyle”. People stroll around Cities – it’s the extension of catwalk throughout a town. See and be seen. Pretty and unique bags make you stand out like a funky hairstyle.

What was your most memorable challenges creating the Mzansi Trading brand?

We got to a point where we were so indulged in building the brand, setting up the company and planning our next steps that our friendship became second. We spoke every day for hours but only about the business – not us as people, as friends and confidants. It felt like we gained our business dream but lost a friend in the process.

What did you do to try to solve this challenge?

We started to see and appreciate each other as friends again. Made time for evenings or chats non business related. Our brand can only be as strong as our love for the business and to each other (as friends).

Tell me about your love for Africa and how the country inspires your product creations.

Africa has been in our hearts since childhood. We didn’t know that when we first met, but we both where in love with this fascinating continent since we are kids. My (Tanjas) Nickname TANNE is from the movie “Out of Africa”.

The products we find and select for our clients in Europe are all “100% Handmade in Africa”. Every single item has its own story. The creators and makers of our collections are Africans: beautiful people who are immersed within the local culture – they soak up the spirit of Africa and transform it into beautiful and truly unique creations. Our part is to explore the country, to travel on roads unknown and to discover and unearth local talent during our “Art Safaris”.

Mzansi Trading Whimsical Collection Cape Town Fein Designtes (2)

What have you learned about your products that you did not know before starting this journey?

We didn’t know the people behind each collection. We had no idea how much the creators and makers loved what they do. The enthusiasm and passion that they bring to the table was truly overwhelming. We both come from many years of work experience of our own; this love and dedication to their path is unparalleled.

With so many great products and organizations to support, why should others choose to support Mzansi Trading?

Because we take our supporters with us on our journey. Our business is a coming together of all stakeholders. We take our “producers” and “creators” on a tour to Europe and our clients in Europe take a little piece of the Africa adventure home. With our Greenpop partnership we can reach even further to extend our support to completely different areas of need. All our efforts are destined to strengthen communities and connect cultures.

Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of?

Yes: We are connecting cultures.

We can make a difference. Being able to say: we do part take in getting less plastic into the ocean. We do support local communities. We do plant trees. Our actions have a positive impact on people, the environment, and the planet we call our home.

And secondly, apart from the overall positive impact on the environment we help local artists to be recognized and made visible across Europe. We bring positive attention to the South African Textile Industry and increase its production.

Tote Bag Shopper African Jungle handgefertigt in Südafrika - Mzansi Trading

What was your reason behind making your Shopper bags out of recycled plastic bottles? What attracted you to this cause?

Our suppliers had this brilliant idea. We just loved the concept and went with it. We couldn’t believe how beautiful a product, made from old plastic bottles, can be.

Why is it important to promote the fact that this is a woman owned business?

It is not important – but we believe in gender equality and running our own business gave us the opportunity to be equal business partners.

What do you think other people should know about Mzansi Trading?

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Yoko Ono We want to turn dreams into reality – or at least get a little closer to it.

How has this Mzansi Trading changed you?

It made us more aware, more mindful, and more considered. We started off wanting to make business together now we want to make a positive impact and leave an imprint or art print for generations to come.

How did you know when Mzansi Trading is successful as a brand, how do you measure success?

“Success is reaching your own set goals.” We are successful when we are the leader of African fashion and home accessories in Europe. There is still a long (unpaved) road ahead of us. But as with all travels: “They journey is the destination.”

What would you say to someone considering launching their own retail brand/company?

With Van Goghs words: “Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”

What does the future of Mzansi Trading look like?

Like with every safari: there is a portion of the unknown, a portion adventure and for sure a big portion excitement.

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