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Bo Mma: From Limpopo to the world

Lacia Buthane is the founder and owner of Bomma Sneakers, a brand founded on love – a love that Buthane has for his mother and women in general.

For Buthane, Bomma Sneakers is a movement in its ideology. He explains that coming from a financially constipated background he had to work extra hard to realise his dream. “After so many tries and failures it was an honour to create an authentic SA brand called Bomma Sneakers,” he says.

When asked where he drew his inspiration from Buthane credits fellow SA brands such as Bathu, Drip, and Vaya footwear. He adds that he realised that the footwear market is accessible and the cake is big enough for everyone to enjoy a slice. This realisation birthed a brand with a name that is inclusive of all races, tribes, and genders.

According to Buthane, his business is by far the fastest-growing brand in SA. “It is loved and supported in all 9 provinces. The goal was for the brand to financially assist and empower women in every shape or form hence the name Bomma,” he points out.

Despite his background, entrepreneurship is in his veins. He says, “I started selling snacks in primary school around grades 4,5,6, and 7. In high school, I became a cameraman, and in tertiary I sold snacks, cold drinks, and chocolates and also created a makeshift res cinema with a TV and DVD recorder and made people pay to enter.” he adds “I was also using hand brushed to create arts on t-shirts so people paid about R50 per shirt.”

True to his vision, Bomma has become a people’s brand. This also influences how he markets the brand. “Our customers are the ones doing more marketing than we are as well as all the celebrities who support the brand and share it with their social media communities. All this helps build trust and grow Bomma.

Despite the unique name, what sets Buthane and the brand apart is that each customer is treated with respect regardless of how much they spend.

Business sense

So how has he managed to get it right so fast? Buthane emphasises the importance of clear, honest communication. He says that entrepreneurs need to learn to communicate with the customers in a way that makes them feel appreciated and that they are part of the brand- a sense of belonging is beneficial. “Honesty is crucial when one is running an online store. eCommerce has removed geographical barriers, but honesty is KEY to making it a success. Word of mouth plays a critical role in growing my brand. This coupled with using influential ambassadors, social media marketing, and being visible at relevant events gets us valuable exposure,” he adds.

Buthane might have a winning formula to get the brand out there, internal idea generation is a collective effort done through weekly meetings – from conception to production, but they also welcome ideas from the general public.

With an internal culture of ‘ubuntu’ and a brand that is for the people, customer care and service are cardinal pillars, therefore, are non-negotiable. Additionally, customer feedback and reviews are also vitally important- whether it’s about the quality, style, or the product itself, what the customers think is taken seriously.

With Bomma flying the Mzansi flag high, he still has fears. The biggest one is a product not being well received. Fortunately, he has an innovative way to deal with this, he posts prototypes first to test the market and get feedback and reviews before introducing something new to the product line.

As successful as the brand is, Buthane defines success as the ability to convert ideas and thoughts into a physical object that flourishes. “It’s the ability to create a system that enables you to generate money even when you are sleeping. However, it isn’t true success if you can’t assist the next person in need without thinking twice.”

Entrepreneurship has enabled Buthane to create and establish company policies and workable systems. The journey has also taught him to adopt a trial-and-error methodology and appreciate the fruits of hard work because these are indicators that you are doing something right.

He suggests that entrepreneurs remember that consistency, perseverance, and a positive mentality or energy are keys to success. “Entrepreneurship is all about trial and error, so you fail and dust yourself and try again.”

Buthane says entrepreneurs should never burn bridges because you will never know who will hold the key to opportunities that could change your life. “Respect people and treat them equally,” he concludes

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