Work abuse led to own label

Young and talented fashion designer Mosa Mokuena, better known in the fashion world for her label MosewaMosa, is not the type of person anyone tramples on.

Young and talented fashion designer Mosa Mokuena, better known in the fashion world for her label MosewaMosa, is not the type of person anyone tramples on.

Just one week into her first job as a trainee designer, Mokuena spotted exploitation. She immediately quit and started her own label.

Although still relatively new in the industry, she has already made her presence felt.

Mokuena, 23, of Kutloanong in Odendaalsrus, Free State, proved her creativity and talent last year when she dazzled fashion enthusiasts with her subtle, but elegant garments at the Durban Fashion Week, and immediately became a household name.

She credits her family, particularly her grandmother, mother and two aunts for being her pillars of strength and for making her the person that she is today.

This strong-willed woman, whose summer collection is being showcased this week at the Joburg Fashion Week that started yesterday at Montecasino in Fourways, is determined to prove that she has what it takes to make it big in the industry while keeping her feet firmly on the ground.

Q: How long did it take you to put together your latest collection?

A: Usually it's not less than two months, but because I was away, we had to do this collection in three weeks. I am not happy about that because I like to have extra time to perfect every single detail of every garment.

Q: What can women expect that distinguishes your brand and why that choice?

A: Delicate clothing, lots of white and cream. These are the clothes that makes a woman feel lighter inside and outside.

Q: How did you end up in the fashion industry?

A: Mine is one of those clichéd stories, but it's a true and special one. I started making clothes for my dolls from the age of seven from the material that my grandmother used to bring me from work. I never thought twice about what I wanted to do and just saw it as a natural transition

Q: How did you start your label and what challenges did you come across? How did you overcome those challenges?

A: After my tertiary studies, I worked for a designer for a week to gain experience. While I was there I saw how young designers were being exploited and decided to leave to start my label. I had a dream so I started building the foundation as soon as possible. Lack of work experience and finance were my biggest challenges, but I pulled through. My family helped to make my dream a reality. I still have other challenges, but I tackle them as they come.

Q: What are the challenges facing young women designers today?

A: I think both young male and female designers experience the same challenges. The issues are more ego-related. They are not necessarily about gender.

Q: There are already many well-established names dominating the fashion industry. Was it easy for you to make an entry?

A: I don't think I have really made an entry. I am still unlocking the metal doors.

Q: What are the common mistakes young designers make when entering the field?

A: We tend to forget about the work behind the garments, the people that help to make those garments and the technical skills required to produce those garments. We focus on the glamour side which is really just artificial because it doesn't actually reflect the truth.

Q: In your opinion what are the five items a woman looking after herself shouldn't be without?

A: A silk scarf, a black coat, heels, denims and a hat.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

A: My first Durban Fashion Week last year.

Q: Where to from here?

A: Up the ladder. The sky is not the limit.