DON’T outprice yourself and remain passionate and focused on what you do. That was the advice to designers attending one of the knowledge-sharing sessions at the Africa Fashion Exchange in Durban today by speaker Lester Bouah of Trade & Investment KZN, the provincial export development and promotion agency. Bouah told designers all about exporting and how the agency, along with the Department of Trade and Industry, could support their export plans.

He told them what they should do to get into the export market and how to stay in. “No one is an island. We have to work together to drive business. I can help you but you also have got to help yourself. “We never sit in our offices and not answer our phones,” he said to applause. He told them that awareness about their products was critical and advised them to take advantage of all the various platforms that were available. “Join networks and associations like the KZN Fashion Council.

“The Vodacom Durban July is a wonderful platform. Get someone to walk around in your design,” he suggested. They should learn the export jargon that they would have to know to market their designs internationally, but if they were not sure of the various codes that were needed, they could turn to the agency for help.

He said they could not buy something from China or India and put a button on and claim it had local content in order to export. “There must be some local fabric. At the end of the day, we want to create jobs…where is the value, where are the jobs?” he said.