Kayla Stam as a brand is all about ‘attainable aspiration’ in fashion. Founder, Kayla Stamboul has made a point of focusing on commercializing high-end fashion while making it accessible to everyday modern women and recently expanding to open a store in Rosebank Mall’s SOKO District. This is her brand story.
“I’ve always loved fashion; I don’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t enthralled by everything about clothing. In hindsight it was impossible not to. My Mom was the reason for my passion. I loved the fact that she never broke the bank when it came to purchasing clothes, but she looked like she stepped out of a fashion magazine whenever she’d go to work.
“I grew up really admiring that. These days you really have to search for fashion gems. It’s challenging to find items that you can wear over and over, without losing quality, yet don’t cost a fortune. I saw gap in the market for fashion that felt aspirational but was still very much attainable… and in November 2017, Kayla Stam in the form of an online store became the culmination of all those years of aspiring to look as glam as my Mom!”
In the early days Kayla found it challenging to decide on the direction of the brand. However, as time as gone by, she began to realise hers was an ‘elevated basics’ brand. They make items that they know customers love to wear but add their personal touch to each piece, whether it’s with a playful fabric, an interesting collar or a dramatic sleeve. There’s always something that makes Kayla Stam items stand out from what you find in competitor stores.
Kayla Stam specialises in three categories: ready-to-wear, occasional wear and work/office wear – which has morphed into loungewear since the start of the pandemic with more people working from home.
The Beauty of Brick and Mortar
When asked what motivated her to open a physical store at SOKO District in Rosebank Mall she replied: “This is an interesting question; initially I was not interested in having a physical store; with technology taking over our lives and evolving every day, it made sense for people to be able to access our clothing nationwide.
“However, we still created occasional pop-up stores to create brand awareness. Through the pop-ups we realised that people are drawn to our products more when they can interact with them in a tangible way. It takes a lot more impressions to convince someone to purchase an item online, however when people see and touch our clothing pieces, they don’t need much convincing because they can experience the quality and fit first-hand. A brick-and-mortar store gives people the opportunity to discover your brand authentically. It’s also a lot easier to get those customers to convert to online customers, which expands our customer base.”
It has been interesting but rewarding navigating how to divide her time between her new store at SOKO District and her studio. From Monday to Thursday, she dedicates time to the production process; sourcing new fabrics, creating new designs and planning items to add to the season.
Kayla handles the creative part of the business and outsources the manufacturing to local female-owned factories. She spends weekends at the store since these are the days with the most foot traffic.
“The store concept is still new to me, so it’s very important for me to get customer feedback and insights on items that people would love to see in-store. As time goes by, I’ll probably get part of my weekends back but for now we’re still learning and ensuring that we get the right mix of products,” she says, her passion for her work evident.
High quality fashion for everyone
Four years to the month after its inception, Kayla Stam is a brand of which she is justifiably proud. “It took me a long time to perfect the high-quality items I envisaged, especially when I was still starting out. My standards are high, and I make a point of ensuring that my manufacturers know that.
“(Incidentally our entire supply chain is female owned. Every single factory we work with is female owned.) I am proud to say that this approach has paid off. We receive a lot of positive feedback about the quality and finishing of our products. Our goal is to ensure our customers feel like they’ve received more value than they paid for.”
But quality alone is not enough for this ambitious 28-year-old entrepreneur who is determined that every garment is a perfect fit from a size 4 to 14. Each piece is crafted in such a way that it’s flattering on most women’s bodies; accentuating the waist making the woman wearing it feel comfortable and beautiful at the same time.
Defining the Kayla Stam Style
Kayla is focusing on scaling having realised that physical retail still plays a very big role in South African shoppers’ spending habits. Discovering ways to expand on the retail space but keeping experiences at the heart of the brand, is still very much important to her.
Future plans also include defining the Kayla Stam look and feel, making the brand easily recognisable without having to rely on a logo. The future is about cementing their unique look and feel while expanding their product range to include kids wear and homeware.
Kayla Stamboul has her sights firmly set on living up to her ‘attainable aspiration’ philosophy, knowing that her customers are getting a better product at a great price.
The Fun Stuff…
Can’t live without item?
Our sleeveless mini dress, it’s perfect for this time of year to wear to events. We’re also making a longer version for if short isn’t your thing.
Crocs, slides with socks and a well-known brand’s new foam sneakers.
What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I’m a huge book nerd, a great cook and very much an introvert.
Books or movies?
My happy place is…
My home that I share with my beautiful blue-eyed Maltese dog, his name is Bentley.
Top of my bucket list is…
Before the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, I was invited to show at Paris Fashion Week! That’s still very much at the top of my bucket list. I’ve always been intrigued by creating collections inspired by my travels so in future you might see Kayla Stam collections named after different cities.