The owner of the brand, who grew up in Manenberg, said he wishes to remain anonymous until he reaches his first major goals.
“There’s a saying in the Cape Flats we all know: ‘Djy brag op skuld’, which literally means ‘You’re bragging on credit’. Until I reach my first major goals, what I look like is less important than what I achieve.”
Since launching in 2015 he said one of his biggest achievements has been the opening and expanding of the VK retail shop in Woodstock last year.
“We literally went from a meme page to a popular retail brand in Cape Town. What has been even crazier is that since launching the shop, we haven’t had a chance to even put up signage; and yet we are one of the busiest shops in the arcade where we’re located. There are even tour buses that stop by so tourists can shop in the VK store.”
The vision of the brand he said is to celebrate coloured culture, while at the same time educate others about it.
“Every meme has always been a celebration of our culture.
“Every piece of clothing or merchandise does the same too.”
However, he said the customer base is not exclusively coloured.
“It has now literally become the norm for ex-pats or South Africans travelling abroad on holiday to purchase a VK cap or T-shirt that they can wear as they travel.”
He said that Vannie Kaap has also been quoted on international news channels.
His latest achievement has been their manufacturing studios.
“We have two locations. So the design and printing studio is located in the same arcade as the retail shop in Woodstock and the clothing manufacturing studio is located in Kensington. For the printing side of things we’ve purchased mug printing machines and other heat presses, on the clothing side we’ve secured all the clothing manufacturing machinery needed.”
In the past they depended on clothing that was imported from Mauritius and Asia and then had them printed locally.
“So when you think about it, when we started we should have been called ‘Vannie Mauritius’. However by controlling the full manufacturing process, we now get to design, cut and sew our own garments by experienced local hands. So now when a customer wears a VK garment they know that it was actually made in Cape Town by Capetonians with Capetonian love. Yes, we actually koppeled feelings.”
With the new manufacturing studios, he said they benefit in three ways.
“Firstly, we obviously increase our revenue by ensuring that we pay less for manufacturing; this also has the added benefit of increasing the quality of our merchandise and the speed at which we restock. Secondly, we get to live up to the name of the brand. The name ‘Vannie Kaap’ means ‘From Cape Town’; so by handling our own manufacturing, we get to ensure that our customers receive locally produced products.”
The third benefit he said is pride.
“Every Cape coloured knows or has family who used to work in the Cape textile industry when Cape Town was a big industrial city. Emphasis on the word ‘used to’; as many of these people were let down when things changed so drastically in the Mother City. The fact that our clothing machinists are coloured taanies, gives us an immense sense of pride; it’s as if we’re not just reliving those memories, but we’re actually doing our part to bring back what was so interwoven into our culture.”
Currently the Vannie Kaap brand employees six staff members, but is hoping to expand on this.
“So far it was important for us to bootstrap the business as long as possible; even the new machinery was purchased through revenue generated by sales and the small financial support of brasse.
“Every cent has been going back into the business; we’ve literally been eating ‘chokers and survivors’ so we can see this baby grow. ”
His vision for the next five years is to see the brand grow. He hopes to expand on the VK retail by opening more branches including one internationally as well to see the VK media be in the top three media outlets of choice in Cape Town.
“We want our manufacturing entity to be a major supplier to other brands in South Africa, thus helping them to reduce their dependency on foreign imports too.”
He asked that all his Muslim friends to make extra boeber during Ramadaan.