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Meet the Makers: FCTP

In support of Creators’ Depot, a digital concept store curated by Between 10and5, Meet the Makers is a new content series profiling the talented creators, makers and entrepreneurs behind much-loved local brands. We also delve into the unfiltered, at times unglamorous day-to-day operations and entrepreneurial journeys for insights around growing a business in South Africa. As one half of the duo running Cape Town-based slow fashion label FCTP as a passion project, we spoke with Herman du Toit to find out more.

One of your mottos is “You deserve to be distinctive. Don’t be part of the Mass Produced”. Tell us a bit about the core of your brand. What has been your journey as a local business?

At the core FCTP is about creating products that let people express themselves. The most common limit to self expression, when it comes to something as basic as a t-shirt, is mass produced retail designs that intend to be unique but are one of a thousand. As a young brand we don’t have anything near those types of numbers, but if we ever reach a point where we start selling more often we will put a limit on each design and simply stop creating it. If you bump into someone wearing the same FCTP shirt as you, it should be a moment of connection as it’s a like-minded individual, especially since our designs are not for everyone, not an awkward moment due to thousands of designs existing and now your individuality has been stepped on.

From sourcing, manufacturing, designing, to packaging and branding, FCTP surely involves a lot of team effort. What does your team look like?

Not much of a team, more like a duo. It’s myself, Herman and my sister Sula, who helps with the marketing and ideation. 

When conceptualising a new product, what research or inspiration do you draw from? And how long of a process is it to get from ideation and brainstorming to what we see on site/in store now?

I generally get an idea or someone gives me an idea, usually inspired by real life events or experiences. I let it hang around in my head for a while, tweaking at it for a bit. By the time that it comes to designing, it takes no more than an hour or two, probably less. We don’t believe in over-designing something. We’re not full-time artists, we don’t intend to be masters at design. It’s an idea with a deeper concept, printed on a shirt that a fair amount of people won’t like and that’s okay. The ideation process can take about a month, but the actual design, printing and putting it online for sale takes about a month or two, mainly due to never holding stock of a product.

What are some of the roadblocks or ‘red tape’ you’ve had to overcome?

FCTP started as a fun side project to create something tangible and avoid mass produced overpriced clothing. We don’t have business partners or investors to answer to, so there is no real “red tape” which allows us to design whatever we want and create content we like. But there have been many roadblocks in terms of figuring out how the hell it all works and comes together, building a website, finding suppliers, figuring out a courier service, dealing with payment merchants, etc.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur or creative looking to launch their products in SA.

I don’t feel like FCTP or myself personally is in the position to be giving out advice. But if I had to, I’d say do what you love, because it’s probably not going to make you a lot of money, at least not for a very long time.

Although it can be difficult to project into 2021, what are you looking forward to? What do you hope the future of FCTP holds?

FCTP is a failing side-hustle, it’s more of a hobby that costs more than it’s making, which is 100% acceptable for a brand that’s so young and unheard of. It’s not a brand constructed to do well in an overly saturated market. Hopefully 2021 can enable us to keep creating for people other than ourselves.

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