Tshego Manche, is a fashion director, travel enthusiast, global luxury influencer and business woman. She is the proud owner of a premium brand called La Manche which dresses your modern lady who is sexy, stylish, loves fashion & seeks a little edge!
What were you doing before founding your clothing brand?
I’ve always believed myself to be a small town girl with big city dreams. It’s my constant humble reminder and motivating factor. I moved from Klerksdorp which is a small town in the north west after I matriculated, I then came to Johannesburg in 2008. I started studying with the University of South Africa at varsity college, studying Bcom marketing management, during the time I was studying I worked at a store in Sandton called Pulsate. This is where my passions where realized, my passion for hardwork, my passion for clothing most importantly my passion for seeing women feeling and looking good in garments. I remember the first few weeks of working my boss flew down from the head office in Cape Town to meet me as they had been a spike in sales, my manager told me he said ‘who is this little girl making me so much money’.
Growing up our family would always dress up to everywhere and everything, I definitely got my style from both of my parents. Seeing my parents go through trials of business, yet stay tenacious and push through everything was motivating.
Their stance was work hard to live the life you desire. My parents have always been the biggest motivator in my take of hardwork and resilience, my mother asked my sister and I what are we passionate about my sister ventured into Travel and myself into fashion. How the brand name came about was I wanted to continue my family name because my dad, I think secretly wished he had boys but calling the brand by our surname was a way to continue the family name. I then searched and found out what the name Manche means in other languages which in French turned out to be ’flared sleeve’ I decided to put an article which is La and call it La Manche which in turn means ‘the flared sleeve’, how fitting.
What keeps you motivated when you face challenges as an entrepreneur?
Remembering why I started, remembering the initial vision I had and where I want brand La Manche to be in the future.
Entrepreneurship can be quite challenging and daily your faced with moments you have to be solution driven and not emotional so as cliche as this may sound passion is the biggest driver. Where your passion is lies your riches.
What was the process establishing your brand – from conceptualizing it, production, distribution and marketing?
The process has always been exciting, the beginning is always the exciting part. I started with my business plan, pitched it to a few investors mainly my parents. Did research on my target market as from the business plan I already knew what kind of product And image I wanted to sell. I always say that the La Manche lady is ‘a lady that loves detail, texture, she is sophisticated with a sexy edge! LaManche is a lifestyle of style and an experience with style. I then sampled the first products to friends and family to get feedback on product. Went abroad to meet my suppliers physically whilst construction on my store which was situated at 9 Dover Street was happening.
We opened our first store end of 2012, we had our first launch with 200 attendees in early 2013.
Our store was a destination store, a beautiful store set on 250 squares with purple and gold finishes and huge fitting rooms and was not in the buzz of mall, our customers would tell us that they loved to come out and engage in an experience and not only shop but would feel like a coming together of women to catch up and get items to feel good in. As far as the marketing we would always collaborate with celebrities, editors, influencers, tv shows and soapies. We also would do campaign shoots every season with each new collection. In 2014 we did our very first local manufactured garments and launched a collection of dresses called ‘Drapped in Chiffon collection’ we sold over 150 dresses, to date one of my proudest moments. We launched our first shoe collection in 2017 and opened another store in my home town klerksdorp north west. Which both didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but we prevailed and continued customization and imports right through to 2019. Where I decided to close the physical store and now we are solely operating online and has proved to be the best decision to digitize the brand fully. The brand has received massive traction online and we are hoping to grow to greater heights and serve the holistic woman globally.
If you could travel back to the early days of your business, what would you have done differently?
I would definitely learn to not spend as much as you make even if its for the business. Keep expenses as low as possible. I would also not grow too big too soon. Not open another store and venture into a shoe line. I now know all of this and always teach other entrepreneurs who sign up to my virtual masterclass, that it is important to use your profit back to enhance your product and advance your customer experience not necessarily jump into getting branches and additional product lines.
You have built a remarkable portfolio as an influencer, what would you say contributed to your success?
Thank you, I would honestly say sticking to my truth and being authentically me also taking great pictures with good photographers.
What do you like to do in your free time? Your hobbies and interests?
I love love being around my kids and my husband truly my happy place. Love swimming and movies.
How important has social media been in connecting with your target demographic?
Social media is the new age, the now, its contributed greatly to my brand I am super grateful for the organic platform.
It’s helped me connect all these years with the La Manche lady and know what she likes, what kind of clothes make her feel good etc.
Where can we purchase La Manche Clothing and on which social platforms can we follow you and La Manche clothing?
Our site is www.lamancheclothing.com and Instagram handle is @lamancheofficial and Facebook La Manche Clothing