Designer with dash and zest

DESIGNER Nomvula Makhathini has created a niche for herself in the local fashion industry.

Makhathini, who graduated with a Diploma in Fashion Design from the Vaal University of Technology, is now the managing director of Makhathini Corporate Wardrobe.

She spotted a gap in the market and wasted no time in establishing herself as a leader in corporate wear for women.

She also took part in the Sanlam Fashion Week a year ago and has created stunning designs for celebrities such as Noxolo Grootboom and Zinzi Zungu.

"I've always loved designing," she says. "While growing up, I always changed the clothes my parents bought me. Sometimes, with just a few safety pins and a pair of scissors, I could make something look unique"

"Sometimes, when I'm busy with a particular project, I hit a creative block. Then all of a sudden I dream about what needs to happen."

Makhathini enjoys taking long walks and jogging to relax and get her creative juices flowing.

"I find my inspiration is everywhere," she says. "There are times when a theme just comes to me while I am jogging or just walking.

"The theme obviously determines the outcome of an entire collection.".

This young and enthusiastic designer, who came to Johannesburg from KwaZulu-Natal in 2005, has since created a work-from- home environment in the city centre.

She has divided her huge third-floor apartment into a comfortable home for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She has also created a north-facing, minimalist design, studio.

Makhathini says her designs generally appeal to the slightly older crowd and the young at heart rather than teenagers. This is because her style is elegant, chic and very modern.

"If I had to categorise my design style I would say it is a combination of ethnic and modern flair.

"Some people might even call it Afro-chic or Afro-pop."

Makhathini grew up with 15 siblings in the northern KwaZulu-Natal village of Nyanyadu.

"My mother was the senior of my father's three wives. It certainly was a struggle for my father to support all of us. So I really appreciate that I had the opportunity to study despite coming from such a huge family"

She says that her father also somehow found the time to encourage each of his children to love and value education.

Makhathini, who intends exposing her designs in The Brides Diary or at the Wedding Expo, also finds pleasure in creating wedding collections.

The busiest time of the year for this designer is usually around April or December, when most weddings tend to take place.

"This is the time when I don't get much sleep because I don't only design bridal wear, I often have to design clothes for the guests too," she says.

Her advice to young designers is clear: "The fashion industry is competitive, but if you are creative and passionate about designing, s it can be very fulfilling."

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