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8 entrepreneurs who built proudly South African businesses [3 Women made the list]

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PHILIP CRONJE AND JAMES ROBERTSON2#6:. PHILIP CRONJE AND JAMES ROBERTSON

The Business: Big Blue

Big Blue is arguably South Africa’s most distinctive and unique retailer. It’s also one of the country’s largest T-shirt retailers, which is even more impressive when you consider that Philip Cronje and James Robertson have chosen to work predominantly with local designers and manufacturers instead of importing cheaper fabrics.While helping to create jobs locally, they also remain environmentally and socially conscious, opting to use locally milled and recycled fabrics, and actively supporting craft groups like the Hillcrest Aids Project, Diepsloot Crafters and Topsi Foundation.An early pilot store, aptly named Kitsch and Kool, was set up in Rosebank, and the original Big Blue store that followed was an instant success. It generated a flood of magazine and television publicity as well as a healthy increase in sales.

This store also became one of the first in the country to combine gifting with clothing, a concept that is now commonly known in the retail industry as a ‘lifestyle store’.


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