WE LOVE: Ecopreneur Phumi Körber
We are so excited this month to introduce you a few amazing woman and their businesses. Let's support each other. Not just this Women's month. But all months!
Phumi Körber is the founder of WISI-Oi.
WISI-Oi is not your average resale marketplace. On this platform, sellers turn their closets into cash, and buyers score pre-owned fashion in excellent condition. They are young, conscious, and fun and are all about building a community that embraces making second-hand a first choice!
GET 10% OFF WISI-Oi WITH A CODE JUST FOR OUR MAVENITES! Shop on WISI-Oi and enter the code "RESALECRUSH" at checkout!
Well well... this is what Maven loves! So we have asked Phumi a few questions. Perhaps it will convince you to buy preloved... or to start your own business. What an inspiring woman! Enjoy.
Q: What inspired you to start WISI-OI?
A: WISI-Oi stands for WEAR IT. SELL IT. OWN IT (pronounced we-see-owe-eye) is born from my heartfelt frustration with fashion overconsumption and the disregard of good quality clothes.
With a Fashion eCommerce background, I founded WISI-Oi in 2020 during the days of hard lockdown, I witnessed the struggle of fashion retailers unable to sell 97% of their inventory due to restrictions, I couldn't ignore the vast sea of clothes flooding the market – something just didn't feel right. It was a moment of clarity, sparking the vision of consuming less and sharing clothes more through technology.
One Saturday, I posted an Instagram story of me decluttering my closet, I had tones of clothes that were in exceptional quality, my friends eagerly started offering to pay for some of their favorite pieces. And in that instant, the idea bloomed – a platform where we could all shop each other's style & closets, creating a community that celebrates fashion-sharing and promotes second-hand as the first choice.
With very little tech background I put WISI-Oi together and built it to the business to the platform we have today. It has been 3 years and we are taking shared fashion to new heights… Hint hint we are building something great :)
Q: Which woman (or women) most inspire you?
A: My childhood was shaped by strong and resourceful women. Raised by my Gogo while my Mama pursued her education, I was embraced and supported by a community of aunts and cousins, you know Africa is the queen communal upbringing. I draw great inspiration from these extraordinary women, who have achieved so much with limited resources while caring for many children. Their resilience & support is the cornerstone of how I have bootstrapped WISI-Oi until today.
Additionally, I'm inspired by overseas celebrities who have turned the use of social media & digital platforms to multi-billion dollar business such a Oprah, Rihanna & The Kardashian clan and of course queen of grace & style Anna Wintor.
Q: Anything specific you want to share about shopping second hand in South Africa?
A: Did you know that over 64% of WISI-Oi shoppers have previously shopped preloved fashion, and a whopping 80% of the remaining 36% are interested in joining the trend? It's clear that South Africans adore shopping second-hand.
Surprisingly, more than 70% of an average woman's closet goes unworn regularly. That's a lot of cash hanging right there, waiting to be unlocked! Platforms like WISI-Oi & Maven are the perfect solution, allowing you to stay stylish without breaking the bank.
Q: What advice would you give to women wanting to start their own business
A: Starting your own business is a daunting and exciting journey, and my advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs is to embrace the incredible support South Africans offer to small, up-and-coming ventures. Don't hesitate to seek guidance and advice from smart/successful/ well connected friend and leaders – there's a vast network of people eager to help you succeed.
If, like me, you come from a family without previous business experience, consider joining an accelerator program like Grindstone. These programs are designed to equip you with essential knowledge, support, and valuable networks to help your business thrive. We've personally benefited from the wealth of wisdom and connections provided by such programs, and I can't recommend them enough!
Remember, you're not alone on this entrepreneurial path & never stop educating yourself on the journey. Embrace the support available, seek out opportunities for growth, and with a clear strategy, high acumen for professionalism & execution your business is on the right track for success!
Q: What is your most treasured second hand item?
A: Oh, absolutely! I have more than one treasured second-hand item that I absolutely adore :)
First, there's this fabulous shoulder-pad peplum shirt with a thick matching belt that I discovered in my Mama's closet – it's like a fashion time capsule! Whenever I wear it, I feel an amazing connection to my stylish mom, and it's such a heartwarming feeling.
Next, I have a stunning pair of super comfortable Steve Madden stilettos that I found at one of the seller boutiques on WISI-Oi. These heels are simply magical – they effortlessly complement any outfit while and never loose their elegance.
And then there's this gorgeous Kaftan I stumbled upon from another WISI-Oi boutique. I'm a huge fan of vibrant colors, and this one just adds so much drama to a swimming cozzie! It's my go-to piece for pool days and holidays, with the fabric so light & soft, it's perfect for an Instagram-worthy poolside picture!