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Finesse with felt and a love of experimentation leads to success for Chic Fusion

Monday, 10 September 2018  
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Razaan Jakoet, the Founder, Designer, and Manager of Chic Fusion credits the CDI as the
catalyst for developing her enterprise into a profitable business. 2018 has been another fantastic year for the business, with growing local and export opportunities keeping Razaan very busy indeed – we caught up with her to share her experience, inspiration and latest developments.


Tell us more about the yourself, your business and your vision


For years I nurtured the dream of owning a business – a business that would allow me to explore my own ideas and creativity.

Being a teacher by profession, I am a passionate and creative individual who loves nature. During my studies I had an affinity for natural fibres and enjoyed using them for various projects.


I started dabbling in felting in 2009 and finally, with a sense of excitement and trepidation I started Chic Fusion in 2010. At Chic Fusion we design and produce hand felted home décor and fashion accessories in 100% wool and natural fibres and fabrics.


One of the greatest joys of my enterprise is that I am still able to fulfill my love for teaching by training young unskilled women at our studio. This allows their innate abilities to develop fully, which in turn instills a sense of pride and accomplishment in them. It is incredibly rewarding for me to make a positive difference in their lives too.


Our vision is to be recognised as a design and manufacturing studio producing innovative pieces for the domestic and international market. We believe in growing the business in an ethical manner, building honest relationships with all stakeholders. Everything we do is also governed by our respect for the environment. 


What inspires you?


I am constantly inspired by the South African landscape and its diverse cultures. I love to experiment with new fibres and textures and often whilst coaxing the wool during the felting process a new idea is sparked. Sometimes just walking in a new environment or catching a glimpse of a striking detail is enough to stimulate fresh inspiration.


How has the CDI helped you over the years?

CDI acted as a catalyst to develop this enterprise into a profitable business and assisted me in creating employment for full-time, permanent staff. I approached the CDI on many occasions starting with guidance from the Programme Panel. I attended many fruitful business courses such as the Costing & Pricing and Finance workshops that proved to be particularly beneficial. The many creative sessions were a good way to see things from a different perspective, sharing time and experiences with like-minded designers and leaving the session refreshed and buzzing with new ideas. 

The CDI assisted with funding to help us increase our staff complement, purchase equipment as well as assist with innovation in our business. Guidance from CDI staff is just a phone call away and they are eager to assist with any challenges we are faced with. Without CDI, our business would not have had the same growth and success.


Tell us a little bit about the experience with the CBI run export development programme at CDI and how this has impacted your business; what opportunities have arisen thanks to NEXT18 for example?

This is another amazing opportunity facilitated by the CDI. Chic Fusion was fortunate to be selected for this programme, which offered greater insight into international marketing trends, how to build a well-structured product range and guidance on preparing for exhibitions.


Both the Linear and Adire ranges that Chic Fusion developed for the exhibition were very well received.


As a result of the exhibition we have acquired various domestic and international clients. At the request of one of our clients, we are developing bespoke products suited to their market, which we find very exciting.

Another wonderful opportunity arose when four of our décor pieces were selected for the rooms at the lodge of one of the top conservation brands in the Kruger National Park, with a selection available at their retail shop at the lodge.  

We are currently busy with an order, including both of our ranges from NEXT18, for South Africa’s leading tourism group for one of their duty-free stores at OR Tambo International Airport. The exposure that we received at NEXT18 was phenomenal and gave us so much to look forward to.  Thanks to the Irene Vermeulen and Solly Levy at CBI for their expertise and the CDI for its continued support.


How has being at the CDI store at the Watershed at the V&A Waterfront helped your business?

We are able to test new products to determine what works in the market and if our prices are in accordance with market offerings.


A highlight in 2018 was receiving an order for products from a client who sources exclusive pieces for the HomeNet TV Channel in America, which will be marketed on American TV. It was a great learning curve, as we needed to adhere to stringent quality control. All of our production processes followed strict manufacturing systems to ensure that we have minimal variances from one piece to the next. We usually market our products as unique pieces and customers love the fact that each one is different. Just before we shipped the order, they confirmed a second order. We finally shipped in August, with the client thanking us for an order well executed.


What challenges have you faced over the years and how have you overcome them?


Managing staff can be a real challenge. One of the biggest challenges I have faced was acquiring staff that is able to easily adapt and learn the required skills for the job. In this business it is important to ensure that adequate on-the-job training and efficient production systems are in place. By ensuring staff are adequately trained, I am able to delegate sensitive production processes, resulting in the empowerment of deserving staff members and providing me with more time to focus on designing and dealing with clients.


What’s next for your business this year?

We find that our product ranges are best suited for the LSM 7-10 market, the export market and certain international tourist hubs. With that in mind, we would like to increase our exports into the European market and by at least another 10% or more which I feel is achievable.  


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