Luxury Bamboo Socks, Impeccable Service and Niche Retailing

Over the last few months, I have had a string of conversations with different friends about bright coloured and bold socks commonly referred to as happy socks. In particular, I was trying to understand the rationale behind purchasing them as they are on the pricey side, wearing them as they are rather daring and ofcourse the business mechanics and success of the different fashion brands making these kind of socks. Ironically, following on from these conversations, just over two weeks ago, I was lucky to attend a talk where the stylish Nic Haralambous was sharing the journey he has been on, building his luxury men’s style brand – Nic Harry and some thoughts on e-Commerce in South Africa. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk as I found it to be very practical and quite relevant especially as I have a handful of friends with small businesses that have a retail component to them. Hence I decided to pen this article.

The Why and How

One of Nic’s motivations in starting the Nic Harry brand was that he felt that the sock space in South Africa was boring and lacking in imagination. Typical retailers stock bland or plain coloured socks for the most part, hence the bright coloured, fun and bold Nic Harry socks provided (and continue to provide) a fresh and exciting alternative. To differentiate the brand from other similar sock brands, Nic Harry opted for bamboo instead of cotton for the fabric and local South African production as compared to mass production in China. Bamboo has advantages of being organic, eco-friendly and anti-bacterial whilst local production meant job creation in South Africa. Over and above this, Nic Harry have zeroed in on providing exceptional and personalised service, something that typical traditional large retailers and other service providers have spectacularly failed at. For example, the Nic Harry sales team do not wear shoes inside their stores. Why? To stoke the potential customers imagination and make them see, first hand what it looks like to wear the socks and presumably how comfortable they are.

Read more

AfrikaBurn 2017 – Desert, Dust and Dance

It has been a little over three weeks ago since I took part in AfrikaBurn, the annual Burning Man like festival in the Karoo.

Describing AfrikaBurn as a festival probably conjures up thoughts of a dance / music. However, AfrikaBurn was so much more than that, it was more of an experience. Some of my best highlights included experiencing a gifting economy in a decommodified society, being exposed to a heightened form of creativity and expression that is otherwise lacking in everyday life and meeting a group of Zimbabweans (my birth country) who drove 41 hours from Zimbabwe to the Karoo in a nineties Land Cruiser!

Below are some pictures which hopefully are a glimpse of the experience.

Tankwa Padstal between Ceres and Calvinia in the Northern Cape Karoo desert of South Africa. A must stop when travelling through the Tankwa Karoo on the R355

 

Ostrich at Tankwa Padstal
Ostrich at Tankwa Padstal

Read more

react-native development

7 Takeaways from Investigating Sluggish Performance of an HTML5 / JavaScript mobile app

I recently spent a few days investigating sluggish performance (particularly slow navigation) on an HTML5 / JavaScript based mobile application. Below is list of the main takeaways from the exercise:

  • If necessary, use libraries that result in faster touch events on mobile e.g. FastClick library to eliminate 300ms click delay between tapping an element on a screen and the corresponding click event being fired
  • Implement lazy loading for lists and tables (most HTML5 / JavaScript libraries have support for this on the respective List / ListView component)
  • Read more

Varsity Podcasts

The Varsity Podcasts Story

The Beginning

Breaking into radio and television is ridiculously tough, the industry is cutthroat. This holds true not only at a national level but university level too. Consider the case of a South African university with 5000 students (conservative estimate), the university radio station club will have say upto 50 active members. That translates to approximately 1% of the student population, leaving so much potential radio talent untapped and undiscovered.

Considering my personal experience, the first university I attended did not have a radio station during my era. However, some friends and I attempted to put together a podcast show and unfortunately the rigmarole of getting approval from the university administration stopped us dead in our tracks. The next university that I then enrolled into did have a radio station which I auditioned for, but unfortunately the demands of my studies did not afford me the luxury of time to make a meaningful contribution thereof. However, both of these experiences did lead me down a path of questioning whether something could be done to tap into undiscovered university radio talents, bypass the formal structures and admin that are part and parcel of traditional university radio stations as well as create curated online content available on demand. Read more

Entrance to The Sleeping Cave sign

Caves, Views and Deep Blue Waters

At the beginning of this year (2017), whilst recharging my batteries, I embarked on a day trip to Chinhoyi Caves National Park. The park is located in the small town of Chinhoyi,  approximately 120km away from Harare (Zimbabwe’s capital city). There was something rather special about walking through the lush green vegetation and seeing the fish swimming in the deep blue water illuminated by the piercing sun rays.

Sunlight filtering through to the Sleeping Pool
Sunlight filtering through to the Sleeping Pool

 

Fish swimming in the Sleeping Pool
Fish swimming in the Sleeping Pool

Read more

4 Thoughts on Excellent Service

Most individuals, whilst going about their day to day life and engaging with various service providers, can attest to experiencing customer service with varying levels of excellence. In some cases, the service has been so amazing and memorable, that they could not stop raving about it to their friends and family. In other cases, it has been average (just okay, nothing to write home about) and in cases not worth remembering, the service has been horrible, to say the least. I have experienced these different scenarios myself and began to reflect on what made a particular service interaction superior over another, especially when it involved two different service providers in a similar line of work. Read more

2016 Annual Review

It is literally the last day of January 2017, this blog post is rather late to the party but hey, rather now than never. After a fairly hectic end of year and travel in the new year, I am happy to have finally had a chance to sit down and pen this. Over the course of last year, I had been itching to setup this blog and start writing regularly (I get flooded with euphoria when I sit down to write or get up to speak and cringe at the sight of a poorly assembled set of presentation slides), so I am particularly stoked to have gotten round to doing so! On this blog, I will share some thoughts and ideas on Technology, Business, Travel and anything else that I find to be of interest to me. Read more