Nicholas Meinert started ROWDY Rucksacks in 2011 in an attempt to create a business that empowers and benefits all involved, from manufacturing to selling. The business model is founded on principles that allow for the creation of tangible value, to everyone. CTE.com wanted to find out what this all means.
How would you explain your unique business model to someone who knows nothing about Rowdy Rucksacks?
ROWDY shares value, and works to provide value for everyone and everything involved, from start to finish. Put simply, we look to source responsibly, produce authentically and distribute personally. The real magic comes from distributing directly through markets and personalising the delivery.
Customers get quality handmade leather goods at a fraction of the price, as there are no store mark-ups. Due to rapidly increasing sales due in part to lower product costs, we are able to employ more generously paid staff to produce. Thus we employ more salespeople at markets who we train to become independent business owners reselling our products at a 15% commission. Through our online sales, we are employing ROWDY delivery people to work on a commission basis for every bag that they personally deliver to the customer’s doorstep.
More than that, we just work tirelessly to make the most beautiful bags possible! All with a lifetime certification.
Where is the business based?
At the ROWDY Warehouse, Salt River, Cape Town
What materials are used?
We use only leather, a bit of hemp fabric for linings, and all our fitting are custom-made or made to order. We certify our bags for life, and we take that pretty seriously.
How did the venture start?
A couple years back while studying at the University of Cape Town, I thought it rather ridiculous that you could not buy a full leather, classically beautiful backpack for under R1 000. Now you can!
How has it grown since its start?
People always think that you need big money to start a business. While studying, I got five bags made up, took them to the local market at the Old Biscuit Mill, sold them, and made 10 bags the following week from the money I earned. The rest followed suit.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
When people look at our prices, they think that this is a hoax or a gimmick. No – this is what happens when you don’t follow the ‘conventional’ system of retail – everyone benefits.
They say money makes the world go round. Well then if the buying and selling of goods is how that money flows, if we want to improve the world we need to improve the way we buy and sell. We need to totally re-design it.
And the biggest reward?
Empowering people with knowledge and economic self-sustainability. These are over-used words which are under-actioned. It starts with doing.
Photography Rory Keohane/HSMimages.co.za