Toward an entrepreneully orientated design model for the SA small business that provides custom-made apparel

Conference: 

Discipline: 

Fashion, Jewellery & Textile Design

Keywords: 

  • business skills, design leadership

The South African government has invested in skills development ever since 1995 in an effort to facilitate more opportunities for small business and micro business (SMME) owners. Skills development programs offered in South Africa include the development of technical skills like apparel construction. At least 129 active apparel SMMEs were operating in the Pretoria region of Gauteng province during between 2001 and 2013. Most of these SMMEs provide custom‐made apparel for their individual customers and the owner‐designers of these businesses are involved in the design process of the custom‐made apparel, but also play an imperative role in the business functions that directly relate to the design process.

Unfortunately, small businesses in South Africa have poor sustainability. The number of SME failures in South Africa varies between 50 and 95% within the first five years. One of the contributing factors to business sustainability is the entrepreneurial orientation of the business or behavior yielded as a result of the entrepreneurial orientation of the owner of the business. Entrepreneurial orientation enhances creativity and innovation which is typically associated with design actions. Nevertheless, it is also associated with a competitive business advantage.

The question remains: how does entrepreneurial orientation manifest in the context of a small business that applies the apparel design process to custom-made apparel? Therefore, a larger study aimed to develop an entrepreneurially orientated‐design process for a business that provides custom-made apparel. As part of the larger study, this paper reports on a qualitative approach implemented to explore and describe the design processes of a selected small business in Pretoria.

The findings showed that one of the cases in this study had an entrepreneurially orientated design process. The specific case that was more entrepreneurially orientated that the other two cases. Entrepreneurial orientation in the context of this study includes: risk taking, innovation and
fashion leadership.

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