The other day, it occurred to me that so many outlets in Zimbabwe would need mannequins. Clothing boutiques have been sprouting all over Zimbabwe, a trend that will continue. As I was musing on it last Tuesday, someone posted on a WhatsApp group that I am on saying, “Anyone selling mannequins and clothes rails, please inbox”. By the way, a mannequin is a dummy, doll, or life-sized human body model used to fit or display clothes.

Growing Clothing Retail Industry In Zimbabwe

When we discussed the top 5 fastest growing industries for 2023, we mentioned online retail. Clothing is a part of that, which applies to Zimbabwe just like it does in many countries. Even the number of physical clothing outlets has increased and continues to increase.  I once saw people bemoaning that many properties are being turned into malls. In those malls, it is mostly clothing retail that occupies most of the space. This is something typical Zimbabwe can attest to.

This shows that the clothing retail industry in Zimbabwe is growing. I have handled several requests from people looking to start clothing design or retail in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, it is projected that from this year onwards, the broad fashion industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19 percent. The market volume this year is projected to be over US$330 million. Knowing that China is the most significant stock source might interest you.

Do Mannequins Even Matter?

This is a question some clothing retailers may have. There are some I have heard saying it is not necessary. They feel it makes no difference. Studies that have been conducted have shown that sales can be increased by up to 40 percent or more. Remember how we often note that video content is the most engaging? It is because of the visual elements that influence human psychology. The same applies to mannequins. Clothes displayed on mannequins stimulate the human psyche more than if folded or hanging somewhere. They are even more noticeable, to begin with. That is why clothing retailers must prioritize mannequins. This is also why starting a business selling or renting mannequins makes sense.

Market Prospects

The market for mannequins in Zimbabwe is infinite. Since some may still consider mannequins unnecessary, market education may be needed. That is why offering rentals aside from sales would be ideal. This will provide prospects with options. Due to stiff competition in Zimbabwean clothing retail, one must stand out. Mannequins are an effective means to achieve that. That is an example of a selling point you can use to get clothing retailers to buy or rent mannequins. The other angle is on the pricing.

Most prospects tend to disregard mannequins because of the cost. Thus, find ways to have affordable pricing that would lure customers. The market is abundant if you major in market education, broad product or service options, and competitive pricing. Let me also add that it is understandable that clothing retailers would be your key target market. However, it is possible to have other types of clients, e.g. clothing designers, artists, etc. Thus in your market research, you may have to look into that dynamic.

Basics Of Starting The Mannequin Business In Zimbabwe

The mannequin sales or rental business is relatively easy to start and run. You can find a physical outlet to operate from. Finding a location close to clothing outlets is best for easy visibility and accessibility. For instance, finding a location in a central business district would be ideal. Then you have the option to operate the business online. You can run the business from home.

This is because the key is adequate and secure storage space for the mannequins. Then you must establish an online presence – a website or web app is essential. Other than the online presence, you can still approach prospects and pitch to them. You can even cold email. So long as your pitch is compelling, many clothing retailers will buy or rent your mannequins.

Where To Source Mannequins

This is central to your mannequin business because it will determine your pricing. You can source brand-new mannequins or used ones (i.e. pre-loved). One possible avenue is online e-commerce platforms or online marketplaces. For example, platforms like Desertcart Zimbabwe, Ubuy Zimbabwe, ZimCompass, Hotbox Marketplace, Mannequin Madness, Mannequin Works, Intershop Displays, Craigslist, and Shopify, amongst others. There are several more examples, online and offline.

The idea is to find sources where the mannequins are of good quality and affordable. That way, it becomes easier to offer competitive prices when you sell or rent out. Sourcing and selling prices will depend on the nature of the mannequin and the material it is made from. By ‘nature’, I mean that some mannequins can be half-body. On average, selling prices can range from US$40 to close to US$200.

That is the mannequin sales or rental business for you. This is a business relevant to Zimbabwe right now. I see this kind of business flourishing in most parts of Zimbabwe. You need to take some time to conduct market research. I have seen examples of people in other countries who started this business and made lots of money. While starting a business of selling or renting out mannequins may seem unusual, there is a need for it in Zimbabwe. I believe now is the time because it has not occurred to many.