Designer and store owner Evert Erasmus said the city centre has been “a pleasure” to live and work in.
Evert owns the children’s’ boutique Ma se Kinners, and a ladies boutique next door on Church Street, and has been living in Bree Street for almost a decade.
Evert grew up in Kwa-Zulu Natal on a farm, and moved to Cape Town in 2000. He attended school in Stellenbosch and went on to study theology.
While he is very religious, he felt that this was not his career calling, so after a semester, he decided to explore his creative side.
“I then decided to go into interior design. My mother is an interior designer, so I think I inherited the creativity from her.”
He then worked as a “window dresser” for Woolworths, and then as a store planner for Tigers Eye retail brand for several years.
“While I worked here, I studied retail management and marketing through UNISA. It was to equip myself, although I didn’t know I would be an entrepreneur so soon after.
In 2014, he resigned from Tiger’s Eye, started designing a children’s line and opened Ma Se Kinners.
“It was a very sudden decision, but I needed to do it for personal growth. We have a little design studio upstairs (in the building) where we design and make all the clothes, so it’s all local.”
He also said his children’s line was a result of his love for making children look beautiful. He said one of his favourite times of the year is Eid, where many clients come in to have their children’s clothing designed.
“I love taking the children’s measurements, having them in the store, and the more sequins and flowers for the girls, the better.
“Also, people often have children that they want to look the same, but they are all different ages, so we do alterations as well. It’s great to make the child feel special for those couple of minutes.”
Asked about the name of the store, Evert said: “If you walk up Church Street, you walk into Bo-Kaap, where most of our local clients are from.
“And when you hear people greet outside, you hear them say, ‘Awe Ma se Kind’, and I thought it was good name. It’s a greeting term true to Cape Town and correlates well with the children’s brand.”
He subsequently designed a plus-sized ladies’ line, called EJE Collections. “I feel like there’s a perception that women should be a certain size to wear high end fashion, so I decided to make something for the fuller-figured women.
The vision for EJE is to style and dress every woman in every size and make them look flattering. We also design for clients if we don’t have their size.”
Evert said before he opened the store, he already knew he wanted it to be in the city centre.
And it worked out well when he found a space in lower Church Street.
“When we moved here, lower Church Street was quite run down. Where this store is now, there used to be an eatery called Trisha Delisha, and next door was an internet cafe.
“Ever since we’ve moved in, we brought some life to lower Church Street.”
He said another reason that they opened in the inner city was for working parents to have access to affordable designer clothing.
“I grew up with working parents and I know how difficult it is to get around to things in the week. So being here, parents are able to quickly run in in their lunch hour and get things done – buy gifts and have them wrapped, or get something for their own children, or for them. so it worked out well for them.”
Evert said there are new ventures to come, such as expanding the store to start their homeware line, and hosting a skincare line, and launching their summer collection.
“I see myself as a designer for many more years to come.” Evert, who also lives in the city centre, said for him, Cape Town has always been the design capital of South Africa, or even of Africa.
“I’ve always been inspired by local design – especially furniture and architecture.
“Cape Town is one of the only cities where the government encourages developing in the inner city. The city is expensive to live in, but it is worth it.
“I love waking up to the city lights, having an option of five gyms around me, going for coffee at Jason’s and coming to spend some time in the store.
“And walking everywhere is the most amazing part. It’s so convenient and safe – its one of the few spaces that I’ve never felt threatened in, and the CCID is a bonus.”
He said while there is the occasional theft and robbery, its something that happens everywhere in the world and can be controlled.