In about 2012, I launched my first Shopify store. I was one of the first in South Africa. I had no local support. It took me months to integrate my payment system with an Australian company. I had no shipping integrations and all the apps were internationally focused. But I plugged away – I worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week (with 2 children), I lived and slept and breathed Shopify.
I have no formal training in tech – but I have a voracious love for it and a massive appetite to learn. I taught myself to code in CSS and HTML, but only so I could change Liquid – because I could never afford developer help.
I set up my store and started trading. Then friends started seeing my website and asked me to make shops for them, so on the side I set up Shopify stores for three friends before I realized I loved this way more than packing boxes! So I sold my first online store and started developing shops for clients.
I decided that this is what I wanted to do. I messed around with Big Commerce, Magento and WordPress with Plugins. But I always came home to Shopify. Shopify is my home! I launched my own web development company. (Please note I am a financial journalist by training with a psychology degree!)
Then uAfrica came to South Africa. I was blown away by their commitment to Shopify. They removed transaction fees. They integrated local payment systems and courier companies – they started moving Shopify towards the international platform. I was so excited. I rebuilt all my stores on the local Shopify platform to access these functionalities. It was the start of great things!
I became a uAfrica Partner and started to develop for more clients. I have developed more than 20 shops. Some have soared, some have failed. Some clients have almost driven me to alcoholism, but I have found my niche and I just want to carry on learning. Every job I have taken on in the last 2 years has been word of mouth and I am so ready to push it to the next level. I have started focusing on marketing and user experience and graphic design and I do it all myself.
Every site I build is better! The last site I completed took more almost a year. It has more than 9 000 products and integrates into a brick and mortar store. I think of it as my third child – I gestated it for the same period and it gives me just as many grey hairs – I truly love it! I also completely under-charged and over-delivered; but learned so much!
Last year, uAfrica ended its partner share with Shopify and I became an international Shopify partner. So despite having built many stores, I only have two completed via my International Shopify Partner Plan and have another six in development, so I don’t qualify as an expert. ☹ YET! I plan to have completed my quota and be an official partner by the end of March!
I have recently fixed or remade sites for three clients whose initial builds were done by listed South African Shopify Experts. I believe this also speaks to my commitment to Shopify and the true value it offers if you are dedicated to it. I am 100% committed to building a Shopify store properly and utilizing all the features to the best of its capabilities!
I know if I am given the opportunity to go to the Shopify Unite conference, not only will I be able to grow my business. But I truly believe I will be able to make an impact in the South African industry! South Africa is poised for massive growth. Online spending in South Africa is expected to reach R53bn by in 2018, from R37,1bn in the past 12 months, according to new research commissioned by PayPal. Our infrastructure has grown leaps and bounds since the incorporation of local multichannels and couriers and South African focused Apps, such as the accounting packages.
I am so keen to expand my business. I have no one here who can help me grow. The other “experts” are not keen to share and they are more interested in knock-em-out-quick stores. Learning from international experts would be a dream come true.
I would never be able to afford to visit the conference in my personal capacity as I am a working mother of two – but I am dedicated!
The Shopify uAfrica Connect conference was held in Johannesburg last week. It was great to attend to see what’s going on locally, which is basically kindergarden. The opportunity for growth is massive! From one comment I made during the Q&A, I had 4 people come and talk to me after the conference to ask for my help. I know I can make a difference – please give me the opportunity to do so!
I love Shopify – I know I can contribute!
Please help women bring Shopify to South Africa!!