Ciska Barnard Couture specialises in exclusive and custom-made evening and bridal wear. The company also creates dresses for the mother of the bride or groom, bridesmaids and flower girls on request.
How did your business start?
When I graduated from the Pretoria Technikon, I was lucky enough to start working as a designer in a factory for women’s clothing. Thereafter, I got experience as a pattern maker and grader in another factory for knitted baby garments. But designing for mass production was not what I wanted as a career. I then started to make clothes for my friends, and by word of mouth I soon had a good client base. I never thought that I would be designing wedding dresses and evening couture. One of my closest friends insisted that I had to make her wedding dress when she got married years ago. I was so nervous as it was the first time that I had tried my hand at such a project. To my own surprise I enjoyed the whole process and all the excitement that came along with it. And before I knew it, I was only doing couture wear for special occasions.
My husband and I were based in Rustenburg. He got transferred to Pretoria and as he grew up in Valhalla, we decided to move there.
How did you find your premises?
At first I ran my business from home. It was perfect for me at the time, because I had to establish a new client base and at home I had no overheads. It took almost five years of hard work to get to the point where I could start up a little factory. So after I asked around Valhalla, I found premises not far from my house.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
It is not far from my house (needless to say, no traffic), and with my studio being at my house, I can see clients after hours. Valhalla is also situated ideally, as it is close to Centurion and accessible for a lot of people living in surrounding areas.
Who are your neighbours?
My neighbours also work from home. I have a hair salon, a daycare centre and a realtor as neighbours.
The space that I am renting for the factory is very reasonable.
What is your shop footprint?
I have at least two new clients every week and then it would sometimes be a bride with her bridal party.
Do you have any expansion plans?
A very big yes! I would like to collaborate with other service providers to set up premises where brides can find a one-stop, reliable team that can be of service in a tranquil and relaxed environment.
Do you operate online as well?
I don’t do online orders, as my dresses are exclusive and custom-made. But I will correspond with prospective clients and give them quotations via email.
I would say wedding dresses. And as soon as the matric dance season starts, evening gowns.
076 176 0847
Words: Zena le Roux | Images: Salomé Hoogendijk