By Bulelwa Dayimani
For over a decade Kelebogile Foko has styled some of the most famous South African celebrities for a number of big South African magazines. Eight years ago she took a leap of faith and established her own brand. We chat to Kelebogile about her business venture and the launch of her new online clothing store.
Who is Kelebogile Foko?
Kelebogile Foko is a mother, wife and business woman. I’m the founder and managing director of (KeleFoko) an Image Coaching Company based in South Africa.
KeleFoko specializes in Image Consulting, Fashion/Wadrobe Styling and Clothing Line. Kelebogile has been at the forefront of the South African fashion industry mainly in styling and wardrobe for both television and print media.
What inspired the name of your brand KeleFoko?
I decided to name my brand KeleFoko which is short for my name Kelebogile Foko. Many of the best known brands in the world are named after individuals. By using my name I wanted to build trust and credibility. People like to know there are real people behind a brand. I also wanted to make my business memorable and build a legacy (people will always remember me)
I wanted to the freedom to my creativity and use fashion to tell African stories. I love making people feel good, so working in the fashion business was a no-brainer.
Tell us about your journey?
After finishing my studies, I was fortunate to get an internship with Drum magazine. My time at Drum gave me an opportunity to build relationships with designers. I used that to learn more about the fashion business and that led me to establishing my own brand.
You recently opened your online store, tell us about that?
I decided to digitally transform my business to break the physical barriers and I wanted to sell to the world. Pre pandemic I was in a process of launching my physical clothing store in Johannesburg CBD so I had to redirect my business to online because most customers were now searching for goods and services online.
Any challenges since establishing the online business?
The process of building the e-commerce website is not an easy one. The online world provides too many options so getting customers to buy depends on how good your products are. To make things easy for our customers we’ve provided a live chat option, which they use when they want to enquire about our products. The great thing about online is that customers can shop throughout the day and wherever they are.
Are people still interested in clothes or has there been a decline since the lockdown and how does she ensure that people still have an appetite to buy?
The fashion industry has been negatively impacted. Clothing sales have declined since the coronavirus outbreak. People are mostly buying essential items such as masks and matching head wraps.
You were recently featured on Bloomberg New York for your African print mask concept, how did that come about?
The profile was for my new clothing business, but more about the masks. The feature was aimed at educating Americans about the importance of wearing a mask, as they’ve not all embraced wearing them. Bloomberg loved how Africans have embraced wearing masks with different prints and patterns.
What inspired the matching masks concept?
Wearing a mask shouldn’t ruin your outfit so I decided to make matching masks for all our clothes.
Who inspires you?
My older brother Ronney Foko, courageous people are very rare. At a very young age he had the ability to stand up to power the willingness to take risks. He was one of the first people to run a business. My brother has never worked for anyone in his life.
How has your business adapted to the new normal of Covid-19?
I’ve had to figure out where my audience are and how to attract them efficiently without killing my marketing budget. With online you cannot rely on one type of channel to drive traffic to your online store.
What has COVID-19 taught you about your business?
COVID-19 has changed my way to market my business, direct sales through my website are now my primary channel, this has helped me prepare on how my business will adapt post pandemic world.