We’ve been spitting for the passed two week that we’re currently experiencing a period of great uncertainty and for small business, the future is tentative which is why we’re trying to support entrepreneurs, by shining a light on them, as best we can.
Mad Hatter Apparel is one of those businesses and Daiyaan Solomons the is brains behind it. Mr. Solomons has always had a keen interest for style that, over time, developed into something much more, which is the base from where Mad Hatter Apparel was created.
Custard X: Where were you born and raised?
Daiyaan: I was born and raised in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town and have lived here all my life. I received my education at Wynberg Boys’ High School and chose to further it at UCT – I am now in my final year.
C: Give us the lowdown on Mad Hatters Apparel?
D: Mad Hatter Apparel is a Cape Town-based clothing brand that was established in August 2019. We mainly operate through our online store and do pop-ups at events when the opportunity arises. From humble beginnings the brand has just grown from strength to strength, a lot quicker than I initially anticipated, which is solely due to the supporters of Cape Town.
C: How did Mad Hatter Apparel come about?
D: Initially, I had no intention of starting a brand. It all started out with me just making a few caps for myself to wear (I wear caps pretty much every day). As time went by, the more I wore those caps the more people asked me about where I got them from. One day, I eventually just decided to turn it into a small-business which sold basic design caps – this is where Mad Hatter was created. Once that started, I thought it would only be caps that I would produce but as time went on, I experimented with t-shirts and later ‘golfers’ – both of which had a similar response to the caps. I eventually committed to it and decided to turn Mad Hatter into a full-on clothing brand. From there, I set up the online store and proceeded to sell items from there.
C: Do you believe there is a purpose for your brand in a market that is seen as oversaturated?
D: I do believe there is an opportunity for Mad Hatter apparel in this competitive market. The designs are simple and not over the top, which a lot of people are attracted to. I’ve also tried to make the products as affordable as possible without compromising quality which is something that gives us an edge over other brands in the industry. All materials and items are sourced and made in Cape Town and it really gives the people who wear the products a feeling of pride knowing that they’re wearing something that was produced locally.
C: What is your plan of action with regards to collaboration? Are you open to it?
D: I am definitely open to collaborations as I see it as a good opportunity to grow brands together rather than trying to knock them down. Currently, my focus has really been on making my brand the best it can be and I haven’t really thought about any possible collaborations just yet. However, when the time is right it’s definitely something that I’d be keen for.
C: Besides your online store, how do you plan to take Mad Hatter Apparel to new heights?
D: The goal is definitely to create a bigger online presence with our products and brand as a whole by proving ourselves on the local fashion scene. We’ve already attracted interest from Super Rugby Players, Dillyn Leyds (@dill_l8s) and Luke Stringer (@luke_stringer) who have used their platforms to help grow the brand with intent to collaborate in the future. However, I don’t have a set plan as to how I want to take it to the next level just yet. I’m just gonna continue riding the wave and see how it grows both naturally and organically.
C: Being a local apparel based in South Africa, what are some of the difficulties you’ve faced as a business?
D: Being a local brand is challenging but very rewarding at the same time. Some of the challenges include competing with bigger international and local brands who are already well established and have built their various customer-bases. Another challenge is having limited resources when trying to experiment with new products and designs – especially when everything is made and sourced locally. However, this all comes with the territory and I believe that with time, all things will fall into place and I’ll be where I want to be in the future.
C: Where do you see Mad Hatter Apparel in the future?
D: The biggest goal I’ve set for Mad Hatter Apparel is to open our own physical store as well as becoming a household name in the local fashion industry. After doing a few pop-ups, it is evident that people are more interested when the products are physically present, rather than being displayed on a computer screen. Exactly when the store will be opening is yet to be decided but stay tuned and I guarantee to keep you updated with every step of the journey.
C: What’s next for Daiyaan Solomons/Mad Hatter Apparel?
D: For Mad Hatter Apparel, next in line would be our Winter Collection. As we transition through seasons, a lot of work has been put into place to make sure the new products are even better than what we have out there at the moment. When the time is right, a collaboration or two could also be in the pipeline. All in all, I’m genuinely excited for what the future holds as the past few months of this business has been incredible. To conclude, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us so far and to Custard X for giving me the opportunity to share my story. Ultimately, I just want to complete the cycle and hopefully inspire someone else to follow their dreams and to do the same!
All pics courtesy of Lloyd Gardener.