FabAfriq Magazine

Interviewing Eohan Lakey, Founder and CEO of NOWNOW

Ramses Wato : Eohan, thank you for accepting to take part in this interview

Eohan Lakey : Hi! Thank you very much for having me!

Ramses Wato : First off, who is Eohan Lakey ?

Eohan Lakey : Well, I consider myself an ordinary South African with extraordinary dreams. I’m a 21-year-old South African based entrepreneur and student. I come from very humble beginnings and grew up in a small agricultural town in South Africa. After moving to Cape Town to attend one of the best schools in South Africa, I found my passion for creating. For anyone who knew me growing up, I always used to be a bit stranger than the rest; I thought differently, I acted differently, I always questioned everything and I viewed the world through a lens which many never understood. As a kid, I grew up with the motto of “If you can dream it, you can achieve it”, this was instilled in me from a young age from one of my earliest mentors and an individual whom I truly looked up to. I feel this created the foundation of who I am today and where I see myself in the future.

Ramses Wato : Tell us more about NOW NOW

Eohan Lakey : NOWNOW is South Africa’s Leading Marketplace for local fashion designers and brands. The idea behind NOWNOW came from a simple class project I had in Grade 10 at Rondebosch Boys’ High School. NOWNOW officially launched in 2018 and in essence NOWNOW acts as an intermediary between designers and customers; we’ve created a platform for designers to sell their products (additionally to any other ways they currently sell it). We also provide a space for anyone in the world to find South African and African fashion.

Ramses Wato : Who inspired you to be a fashion designer and what motivated you to create ‘’ NOWNOW’’ enterprise?

Eohan Lakey : I think I’m more of a fashion entrepreneur than a designer. I was inspired to follow this path I’ve chosen mainly for social purposes. There was a need to provide local fashion brands with a more efficient and cost effective manner of selling their products online. The biggest motivation in creating this platform was the fact that it had never been done before in South Africa. With most businesses that are created, the individuals behind it have an inherent desire to see it be a success. This desire is translated into motivation and we were no different to this. I can say it’s a mixture of that teenage optimism as well as how I viewed life in general that motivated me to create NOWNOW.

Ramses Wato : How has COVID-19 pandemic affected your work?

Eohan Lakey : Covid-19 has had its positives and negatives. In the week preceding the lockdown in South Africa we experienced our highest sales volume in 2020 over a week. Due to Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown, it restricted our activities. As a non-essential service provider, we experienced an immediate halt of income which resulted in a much slower growth rate than predicted in 2019,particularly in Q2 and Q3 of 2020. With fashion being a manufacturing intensive industry, production was greatly affected. However, it has bounced back quite quickly and we are hoping for a positive recovery in the coming months.

Ramses Wato : Tell us more. What are the biggest challenges that you face in your activity?

Eohan Lakey : The biggest challenge for me would be to continuously be innovative. This specific trait is coupled with creativity. This drives innovation and innovation is essentially the result of creativity through what I have experienced. As an aspiring entrepreneur, the need to constantly reinvent and adjust to the environment which is presented is a major challenge as only a few have the type of energy required to do something like this.

Getting capital was a challenge. As a youngster fresh out of high school I didn’t have much money to throw towards starting a business (something I should have thought about before starting NOW NOW).A solution had to be created which prompted me to start looking for a job. After being rejected from multiple restaurants, I started working with a well-known events company based in Cape Town who has created some of South Africa’s most notable music festivals as well as coaching sports at Rondebosch Boys’ Preparatory School.

Knowledge can be easily obtained thanks to the invention of the internet and online resources such as YouTube but there are times where you won’t exactly find all the answers and nothing beats experience, from what I’ve learnt. The first few months were simply trial and error, after watching every video, listening to every podcast and trying to read a few books here and there I internalized enough information for me to get through the first year of running but make no mistake, I’m still learning new things every single day.

Entrepreneurship is very tough. The ability of staying motivated when things aren’t going the way you want to should be a superpower. During tough times it was vital to remember why I started and where I want to see this business in the future. On multiple occasions my creativity has ‘dried up’, I’ve learned that motivation and creativity work hand-in-hand as the more motivated I am the more creative I become and vice versa.

Ramses Wato : What has been your greatest achievement in your career as a fashion entrepreneur?

Eohan Lakey : As a fashion entrepreneur I believe my greatest achievement is that I’ve been able to have an impact on the industry, no matter how big or small it may have been. The fact that people know about NOWNOW and have an invested interest in the store blows my mind; it means that what I’m doing is really having an impact. Also, that I’ve been lucky enough to sit down with individuals such as yourself that are interested in helping me tell the story of NOWNOW right around the world. These are aspects that I am grateful for everyday and reaffirms that what we’re doing is the right thing!

Ramses Wato : What does the future of entrepreneurship look like for you ?

Eohan Lakey : Entrepreneurship, although super risky in the South African economic climate, is bright in South Africa. On a more personal note, I’ve seen more of my friends and acquaintances (around my age) take the risk of opening up their own business, since I launched NOWNOW, which to me means that entrepreneurship is growing stronger. We need to foster and promote these skills as this is exactly what we need in South Africa. Every extra entrepreneur means more jobs are created in the private sector which ultimately will address our unemployment crisis.

From a personal point of view, I’ve taken the stance that each venture I create has to make a meaningful difference to society. Although still young, I believe that my purpose in life is to reinvent and possibly revolutionize industries.

Ramses Wato : Tell us. According to you, what are the different traits that an entrepreneur needs in order to succeed?

Eohan Lakey : Every entrepreneur will give you a different answer, but there are three traits that will always remain the same: Creativity, Hard work and Inner locus of control. Without these three traits, it’s very difficult to make a success of any business you put your mind to.

Ramses Wato : What would you like to see change in Africa and more especially the South African entrepreneurship environment ?

Eohan Lakey : Africa is a continent with vast opportunities. Unfortunately due to the undeveloped nature of this continent, we might not have some of the products or services available as like to our developed counterparts. However, this provides individuals the opportunities to create ventures, services and products that satisfy these needs. The main problem in this situation is the actual individual; the main issue why we don’t see as many entrepreneurs in Africa is the fact that many individuals are deterred by the uncertainty of generating a livable income. Due to the relatively high unemployment in Africa, receiving a livable wage is a major worry for the majority of individuals. I’d like to see increased emphasis on sustainable ways to earn income from entrepreneurial ventures through learning avenues in schools. If we can start pushing the narrative of creation from an early stage in the development of young minds I believe we’ll have a more prosperous future in the realm of entrepreneurship not only in South Africa but Africa.

Ramses Wato : What advice can you give to young people who aspire to be entrepreneurs?

Eohan Lakey : My advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs is always try and learn more from things and people around you. The biggest disservice you can do to yourself is having too much pride to ask for assistance and guidance from those around you and more experienced than you. Also don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, the fear of rejection is a major issue for many entrepreneurs but the easiest way to overcome that is actually to be rejected (trust me, I know). You honestly never know until you ask. If you can dream it, you can achieve it; keep on pushing and remember why you started.

Ramses Wato : Apart from your professional activity, what are your hobbies and your favourite dishes?

Eohan Lakey : I don’t have many hobbies. I’m an avid golfer and try to keep as active as possible so I do work out quite often. I also enjoy racing, specifically Formula 1 and this is a shared hobby in my whole family. My favorite dishes would have to be asian, currently my favorite dish is beef and black bean sauce from a local restaurant in my area.

Ramses Wato : Thank you for your time Eohan.

Eohan Lakey : Thank you too.


 

 

 

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