August is the month to celebrate women. Lize van Niekerk is definitely a woman to lookout for. This young entrepreneur lights up the room when she enters with her broad smile and infectious personality. But do not take her lightly as she is an award winning business owner behind that broad smile.
Lize (27) grew up in Pretoria but she could not have been where she is today if it were not for her stamina, strength and phenomenal drive to succeed in life.
She studied BA Visual Communication at the University of Pretoria. She continued her studies in a master’s degree in Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management at LIM College in New York and is currently busy with her MBA through correspondence at the University of Southern New Hampshire, America.
While studying in New York, Lize also worked at a retail store for experience.
“I used to walk to LIM College through Times Square every day. Every day was different and held a new experience. That’s the magic of Times Square!” Lize said smiling.
She moved back to South Africa in 2018 and worked in the fashion industry in Sandton for a year and a half. As I was interviewing Lize, she looked over her coffee mug and said: “I did not like that job very much.”
I asked her why she moved to Secunda and she lit the whole room up with a warm smile, blushed like a new bride and exclaimed: “For love of course!”
With time on her hands she decided to plant the seed that has been cultivating for the past 10 years… Die Swart Skaap.
Lize joked that she is the black sheep in her family and that is where the name Die Swart Skaap comes from.
She started with simple designs to print on the T-Shirts. All the slogans and designs pertain to being the black sheep of the family.
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The 1st range of Die Swart Skaap T-Shirts cost her R 3000 including printing. She only printed 40 T-Shirts to test the waters and ensure that there is a market for something that is completely original and out of the box. Lize started this project out of her own pocket.
“I was terrified that people won’t relate to the brand. My fiancé was willing to assist me financially in my endeavour but I decided to face this new chapter in my life on my own. He never stopped supporting me!”
Lize was shocked at how quickly the 1st range sold out. She wasted no time to design new shirts for the second range.
The second range saw the appearance of the crop top tee and a men’s range. She invested R 12 000 in the second range (150 shirts).
Lize struggled to keep up with orders with the second range. The brand Die Swart Skaap grew into an astonishing success.
Die Swart Skaap was nominated at the 2020 Afriforum Netwerk Tinteltong awards for the easiest online shopping experience and of course it was clear from the time Die Swart Skaap would win. The website is truly user friendly and definitely effortless to navigate.
She is currently busy designing the third range of Die Swart Skaap which will be her Spring/Summer range. She does not want to divulge too much but said that the third range is something that customers can look forward to, that it is something fresh and spunky.
Every range has three designs. The designs are original, funky and spunky and definitely can be worn by anyone and by all ages!
It is phenomenal to see young entrepreneurs take chances especially if the young entrepreneur is a young, outgoing, original and fervent young woman.
Her approach to life and how she handles every challenge in her path is a testament to her never give up attitude and lust for life! She is the epitome of grace, beauty and elegance and the sky is not the limit for this compelling and strong young lady.
One of Die Swart Skaap’s designs says: “Swart Skape dink.” You definitely do not have to think about following Lize because as another of the designs says: “Skape Volg!”