• A Lula Swim velvet neoprene bikini.
  • A few of Middleground’s items available on its Instagram page.

Young entrepreneurs succeed on social media

With the continuous growth of the internet and its ability to enhance business opportunities, young entrepreneurs are jumping at the chance of bringing new ideas to social media.

Instagram is among one of the platforms that people are using to jumpstart new business approaches. Ropene Kurukaanga is a 20-year-old clothes enthusiast who has developed his love of fashion into a business uproar by selling preloved vintage clothing on an Instagram page. To find quality items for his page, Middleground, Ropene searches all over Auckland . He then displays these to his followers, who are more than happy to purchase. All the hard work of rummaging through clothes shops and finding the best pieces for his Instagram page pays off, as buyers are frantic to be the first to pick up new items when they are posted.

Ropene runs his page from his home in Northcote, and says that living on the North Shore gives him access to the range of op shops close by, which he visits regularly to find new items to list. He adds, “There’s a lot of people here too; word of mouth works a charm because everyone knows everyone around here.” Ropene uses Instagram as his main platform for his resale shop, as he finds that it is easy to keep in contact with customers and stay relevant for his target audience. With Instagram, he can quickly see notifications from customers on his phone when he’s out and about, as well as post up sneak peaks for followers so they stay interested with his regular page updates.

Ropene says that the most challenging thing about running Middleground was starting the page and working hard to gain exposure and followers. Since he has done that, the upkeep of the page has been a lot easier, knowing that there are more than 1,000 people who see the clothes he puts up for sale and who react to posts fairly quickly. Middleground’s biggest achievement to date is being able to bring a collection of items to a pop-up store for a day. This gave Ropene the chance to experience a real operating store environment.

Middleground is always on Ropene’s mind, whether he is looking for new items to sell, posting polls and questions on the Instagram page, or working to keep his followers constantly engaged. He says it has been overwhelming receiving huge support from his friends, family, and strangers who have seen his hard work established over time, with Middleground now running smoothly.

A similar story of how a business has developed with the help of social media is behind the work of Daniella Fernandez and her achievements with her own swimwear brand called Lula Swim. Daniella fell in love with some similar overseas swimwear companies she had seen on instagram, and decided to start an initiative that would soon become a very successful New Zealand brand. She was sick of wanting to buy products that had such high shipping costs and expensive prices, so she began to create her own idea and produce a series of velvet neoprene swimwear made for girls everywhere, with low prices and quality materials. Lula Swim has a large focus on promoting body positivity and confidence for all of its customers.

Daniella uses Instagram as a main platform to reach customers, just as Ropene does with Middleground. Lula Swim uses Instagram by reaching out to influencers who represent her brand well and help promote the bikinis, while following the company’s guidelines of body positivity and inclusiveness. Daniella says there has been a lot of time, money, and effort put into the development of Lula Swim, but the outcome has been worth it all. There is also a big responsibility for Lula Swim to stay engaged with followers at all times, which Instagram has helped with due to its interactive capability.

Daniella says that planning and market research were two of the biggest challenges she had to face in order to get Lula Swim up and running and make it the success that it is. To make sure that Lula Swim meets deadlines and the needs of customers, Daniella works uses a lot of routine planning and checklists to stay up to date and juggle other parts of her personal life, along with running a business on social media. Daniella loves doing all of this from her home in Castor Bay – she says that it’s great to have the community behind her and have her brand travel by word of mouth through the North Shore and elsewhere.

For both these young entrepreneurs, running business on social media has allowed them to maintain other interests in their lives, such as university, other jobs and social commitments. Daniella and Ropene both aim to keep expanding their businesses, and in the next five years Middleground would like to start opening stores, while Lula Swim may expand into more market trends, or even another brand. Both of these successes on social media are due to hard work, and the advice that these two give to anyone thinking of starting up something similar is to give it your all when it comes to producing something you love.

Middleground on Instagram: @middlegroundnz

Lulaswim on Instagram: @lulaswimnz

Issue 100 July 2019