"We need to view African products as luxury brands"
How was it growing up?
I was born in Lesotho in Maseru. We moved to Mafikeng when I was about 4 years old. I later on moved to Johannesburg where I completed my primary school. High school was in KZN where I learnt Zulu as my second language. I was quite an active child.
Why did you take up fashion design?
I actually wanted to go into fine art when I was in Grade 10, we had those career days at school where parents attended to help you pick your final subjects. My mother was convinced there was more money in clothing design then in fine art. By this point I was already sewing my own clothes and I would sell my designs to my peers for R20. I think getting into fashion was already in my blood and just the natural way to go to express my creative ability.
What inspires your designs?
I have always believed that it is important that clothing has its own story and history. I have always used cultural references when designing my clothing. I have always felt clothing with cultural context lasts longer. My current and main focus is my own culture, that of Basotho. Having moved around so much growing up, and going through that “who am I” phase many people go through, I decided to start from the beginning, my roots.
What drives your need to succeed?
It’s a number of things really. More than anything it’s the belief that this is the gift God gave me and I cannot let it go to waste. I am doing what I love and I am very fortunate that I can combine my love and talent and make a living from it. Not everyone is that lucky.
How did you make sure there is something that sets you apart from other designers?
Keeping true to my own narrative - I am telling my story and no one else can do that for me. I also believe in quality and not just beauty. People need to view African products as luxury products and one can only do that if they are offering the same quality as of those of international brands.
What have been your highlights to date?
- Most recently being named on of the top 200 Young South Africans by Mail & Guardian.
- Being commissioned by the SA Mint to design for them to commemorate the 50 Anniversary of the Kruger Rand. The Legacy Cape I designed for them will be showcased at 100% Design SA Exhibition from 9 to 13 August at the Gallagher Convention Centre.
- 2016 Most Beautiful Object in South Africa Nominee for my Starbust Kobo Coat.
What are the challenges you face as a successful businesswoman?
The challenges of a successful businessperson include balancing family, self and work. It’s so easy to get lost in the one and you find the others suffer. I found that when work stress too much, you need to be able to hide in your sanctuary that is your family. But even then, its always good to spend time with yourself to reflect and pray, to see where you have come from, where your going and to realign your goals.
Where are you hoping to take your brand?
Had you asked me this question last year I would have told you, I want to take my brand international and have a five-storey building producing different collections for men and women as well as expanding into homeware and accessories. But of late I have realised there a lot of social and educational issues that need to be addressed. I hope that my brand will be able to make an impact in those we can reach.
Images by Colin Mileman and supplied.