When Animal Skins Are Gold

Lawrence Dhlamini throws business net deeper in market

Lawrence Dhlamini identified a gap in Soweto markets and exploited it. He is the only entrepreneur around who specializes in variety of animal skins. This is opposite to the local sector that is saturated with spaza-shops, vegetable stalls, hair salons and fast food. His shop, Soweto Game Skin, flaunts Nguni cow hides, wild cats, waterbuck, gemsbuck, nyala, to mention a few. There are also animal trophies (embalmed head and neck) sticking out of the walls.
It is not difficult to notice Lawrence’s shop at house number 288, along Mokoena Street at Klipspruit. Eye-catching hides of different African animals (wild and domestic) are flapping on the line. The interior of his elegantly decorated shop is also inviting to a passer-by with love for artefact.
This shop was founded on Lawrence’s passion for animal skins. He confesses: “It started as a hobby. I loved buying animal skins to decorate my house. I even visited various shops to find out where they buy their hides. Subsequently, I bought and sell them. This was in 2007, even today the shop still stands.”

 

 

 

 

He started selling his products to friends, potential buyers and did door-to-door sales. Word of mouth also helped to grow his business. “I sell almost half-price as compared to shops at malls and suburban areas.” He swears by authenticity on his products.
Soweto Game Skin’s clientele spreads beyond Soweto. “I have customers from Germany, Brazil, Finland and Australia. They buy online. Locals and tourists do pop in anytime,” he says.
Lawrence is aware of illegal trading of endangered animal parts and avoids such dealings. He says he buys from licensed dealers only. “For every animal trophy I sell, I have a license for it. Otherwise I was not going to be able to sell my products online and abroad without being harassed by the law enforcers,” he assures.
He is certain that animal skins form part of Black people’s culture. “There is no African family that has never owned an animal skin on its lineage. We need to go back to the way of our ancestors.” Lawrence’s shop operates Monday to Saturday. On Sundays he trades at the Rooftop market in Rosebank.

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