Fitness clothing brand taking off
Exercising his passion for fitness in a niche student health market, Port Elizabeth student and emerging entrepreneur Billy Siziba has used his flair for fashion and knowledge of clothing function to create an increasingly successful homegrown gym apparel brand.
At 24 years old, and just two years after breaking into the general sports and fitness apparel markets, Siziba is now making it as the designer, owner and manager of his Bullyz Fitness gym clothing and lifestyle brand.
Having steadily built up the retail side of his business – which he conducts through a kiosk at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s off-campus gym in 8th Avenue, Summerstrand – Siziba’s latest success came when he claimed third place in the national 2016 ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, aimed at assisting start-up entrepreneurs.
Currently completing the first year of a masters degree in architecture, Siziba won R15 000 in the competition, which he plans to put towards the development of an app he created for the fitness industry and which will expand his business.
Outlining his entrepreneurial journey, Siziba said he had launched Bullyz (BreakingUp Limits Living Your Dreamz) as an extreme sports apparel business two years ago, but rebranded it to Bullyz Fitness after parting ways with his initial partner.
Siziba, who aims to start offering apparel packages along with gym contracts from next year, currently retails branded tank tops, cross fit shorts, dry fit, long sleeved tops, lifestyle T-shirts, yoga tights for ladies, as well as lifestyle accessories such as caps, buddy bottles and towels.
Siziba, who revealed that he designs most of the apparel himself, said his winter gear,which includes tracksuits, brings in the most money and added that he expected to see an increase in sales once his online store is operational next month.
“Initially we wanted to start something different, the first black-owned extreme sports brand, but quickly realised it was not going to work out as neither of us were into mountain biking or bungee jumping.
“We started experiencing some difficulties and then I decided to branch off on my own. I decided on sports apparel because it was something that I am passionate about,”Siziba said.
The laid-back but business-minded student said he was seldom picked for any sports team due to his stocky build when he was a teenager.
This inspired him to get fit and to change his lifestyle. Prior to relaunching his new brand, Siziba said he had noticed a gap in the market at his university faculty, which he translated into the design of hoodies for final-year students.
“The response was amazing and through this I made enough money to start up Bullyz Fitness. Things just kind of grew from there, ”he said.
Siziba currently employs two staff members who are also students.
The young businessman said the market he was serving and his desire to grow his business had inspired him to develop his winning gym app, which is directed at assisting those who wanted to get fit and stay fit through gym training.
“The app will essentially help anyone who is looking to get into shape but can not necessarily afford the high cost of gym fees,” Siziba explained.
“They will log on to the app, see what gym is closest to them and the cost for that one session they want to attend. “Very often people do not want to be tied down to any gym contract and our target market – which is students – will be able to access any gym and only pay that small, once-off fee,” he said.