Veggie-leather accessories brand is on the rise

St Reign bag and accessories creations.
St Reign bag and accessories creations.
Image: Supplied.

Growing up in Amanzimtoti, Samkelisiwe Mhlongo has always held a great passion for fashion. Hoping to make a career of her love of design she took to the Durban University of Technology in pursue of a diploma in fashion and textile but did not have the fees to complete her studies.

This setback did not stop Mhlongo from creating accessories on her spare time. She started a fashion venture with a friend but the partnership fell flat.

“I was just at home and trying to figure out what I should do next. Then I remembered that I’ve always wanted to create bags and stuff. So I started exploring with different fabrics and at that point I wanted to do a course in working with leather but it was too expensive. So, I started teaching myself and bought my own set of tools.”

A year later, Mhlongo has been able to launch a bag and accessories line from her very own house. All pattern work, leather dying and sowing for the St Reign creations are done from the comfort of her own home. With the outcry surrounding the use of leather, Mhlongo opts for a more conscious alternative known as veg-tan leather.

“They use plants and leaves and they don’t use any harmful chemicals to make the leather,” she explains.

While starting the business was her first big hurdle, Mhlongo is now faced with the challenge of ensuring she gets more customers.

“It’s all good and well when people are liking the posts and they’re commenting but it’s very hard to turn that actual person into a customer who is going to order. I’ve been reading up a lot on constantly posting and minding the time but now I’m trying to get out there where people can access the product.”

Mhlongo plans to have St Reign in a number of retail shops, the current being the Box Shop. She is also working on a winter collection for women’s wear.

To follow the latest from St Reign see their Twitter and Instagram pages @st_reign.

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