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Mbali Zwane of Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, believes there is more to fashion design and dressmaking than making money.
The 28-year-old woman is director of her own fashion and dressmaking design company, Mbali Fashion Design.
The company was started earlier this year, and is operated from a rented room at Masilulu Ladies Home in Vosloorus. This is no exception as many fashion designers started operating from home or small apartments.
In October last year, after losing her job at a bakery, Zwane registered for a five-month fashion design and dressmaking course with Medrage Dressmaking and Fashion Design School. It was after she had completed the course that she thought of starting her own business.
Zwane says it was not by chance that she ended up in fashion design. "I have been very fond of making clothes since I was young. I was motivated to do something about it after losing my job at the bakery. I was in fact tired of working for someone, and the loss of my job was a blessing in disguise," says Zwane.
She says, however, that competition is tough in the industry. She has a considerable number of clients who often refer other people to her.
Zwane, who originally comes from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, admits there are times when business is so slow one feels like giving up, which, she says, is a norm in any business environment.
"There are people who I now regard as my regular clients because they always come back to buy or bring someone new. I am happy with the way things have been running so far," Zwane said.
While she also makes other forms of clothing, Zwane specialises in traditional garments because she believes African traditional clothes are now claiming their rightful place in fashion. Blacks are becoming more comfortable with traditional attire.
"I feel happy when I make a mixture of traditional clothing. I believe the emphasis now should also be on African clothing, whether it be Sesotho or isiXhosa attire," Zwane said.
Zwane's good customer service skills help in getting her more customers as an entrepreneur. She acquired the skills when she was a waitress at a Wimpy food outlet in 2001. She also worked at a restaurant in Eastgate in 2004.
Zwane holds a business certificate from Rosebank College, which she got in 2005. Zwane is about to complete a course in Heritage at Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg. She says the course helps her define what is truly African, hence her interest in designing African attire.
Asked what her advice is to aspiring fashion designers, Zwane said: "Passion and dedication accompanied by some qualification will see any aspirant fashion designer through." She admits though that she has not reached the stage where she can say her business is booming.
The youth must believe in the beauty of their dreams and be confident about themselves and what they want in life, she says.