When it comes to shopping and gifting there has been a shift, especially internationally, towards trying to buy quality over quantity. Bena is one such local brand that inspires one to go for the less is more approach. We spoke to the two sisters behind the brand to find out more.
∇ TELL US ABOUT YOURSELVES?
XAN: I am a mum of two, Max who’s only 3 weeks old and Sienna who turns 3 in Feb. We live up in Johannesburg and I come from a background of logistics in shipping. When I fell pregnant with Sienna I stopped working. I wanted to spend more time at home with my daughter yet still have a passion project on the side that generates a bit of a revenue and this is how BENA was born.
CHARLIE: I live in Cape Town with my fiancé and am a freelance marketing consultant. I worked in the industry for 6 years until I got itchy feet – I really wanted to work for myself. I came up with a plan to spilt my day 50/50 between consulting which would pay the bills and then the modern cliché “do something entrepreneurial.” My first venture was Salud Taqueria, a Mexican pop-up in the heart of Woodstock. Despite being successful and having a deep love for anything food I very soon realised the restaurant industry is really tough – lots of back breaking work for very little money. My sister Xan kept approaching me for marketing advice with regard to starting BENA so one day I said “make me a partner.” The rest is history! Big loves in my life are food as well as holistic health, which is why it’s been such a pleasure to jump on board a luxury lifestyle brand like BENA Loungewear.
∇ Describe your brand in three words…
Classic, luxurious and practical.
∇ Describe your customer
We have three types of customers….
New mums and mums-to-be who want to feel and look good in and out the hospital. Our maternity shirts are tailored to accentuate mum’s glowing figure yet allowing her the space for baby to grow. All our maternity pieces button up which makes for easy breastfeeding.
Our second customer is a mum, auntie or granny who is tired if seeing her kids wardrobe dominated by animated characters. They seek to dress their kids in something more classic or even smart despite the fact these are pyjamas.
Lastly it’s your everyday women, from your pyjama dressing fashion forward young professional to your grandmother who treasures the finer things in life.
∇ Tell us about your brand name
BENA originates from the first nickname given to Xan’s firstborn Sienna – ‘Bena’ is short for Sienna. We struggled to find a name questioning the relevancy of many very literal options that kept coming up as possible names. One day Charlie clicked, let’s name the brand after her absolute favourite (and only) niece “Bena” (pronounced Benna).
∇ What is your favourite piece from your current collection?
XAN: My favourite piece is currently from the Maternity range as I gave birth to Max 3 weeks ago. Really loving the Babydoll shorts set in white cotton. They were perfect while pregnant and now perfect post birth for breastfeeding, still feeling well dressed and pretty for my hubby Rob!
CHARLIE: This is a tricky one because it’s a toss up! I love the double piped classic shirt which has not been released online yet. This shirt can be worn as sleepwear or paired with a pair of jeans and heals for effortlessly elegant nightwear. My second choice is our nightshirt; this garment takes sleeping and lounging around the house to the next level. 🙂
∇ Why did you decide to add maternity and kids to your collection?
XAN: BENA actually started with only a kids range in mind. I struggled to find classic pyjama’s for Sienna which inspired me to start BENA. Then to follow Kids with a Maternity range just made sense as I knew through my first pregnancy how hard it was to find good maternity wear in South Africa. It exists but few and far between (I also fell pregnant with my second and jumped at the opportunity of designing myself my very own set of pyjamas). When Charlie joined BENA she brought with the idea of a women range.
∇ Favourite place to shop…
CHARLIE: Online. Whether it’s just window-shopping or actual purchases it’s easy, stress free and you have access to all the shops from the comfort of your couch… or beach. This festive season has seen me beat the Christmas rush and do all my shopping for gifts online.
∇ Currently obsessed with…
XAN: My newborn Max!
CHARLIE: Inventing new recipes for rice paper rolls whether it be playing on authentic vietnamese flavours or getting a little creative.