It’s not everyday that we get a chance to see a brand evolve from the start until it matures into a household label. My journey in building ShweShweKini Active Wear is a bit different because I get to write about it as I go and share it with you.
ShweShweKini has allowed me to acknowledge every step of the journey and to appreciate that building a brand takes time, patience and money. Which is why I’m happy to have all of you reading this post or those who have seen my posts on my brand, join me on this journey. Hopefully one day we can look back and talk about these early days and marvel at the progress.
I always knew that I was meant to create something great and extraordinary. Something creative that would allow me to contribute towards this generation. Before Shweshwekini, I had so many other creative ventures I wanted to focus on, such as starting a travel agency, or a beauty and health spa, an app, my own medico-legal practice, my own fabric shop and even my own B&B and so the list continues.
As I drew my mind map of ideas, and drafted my swimwear idea, I thought swimwear was a stupid idea because there were so many swimwear labels in the market already and I struggled to come to grips with why mine would be different or why I’d want people to wear it in the first place. I remember my one supervisor in varsity who used to tell us that it’s always the stupid ideas that end up requiring more work and have greater outcomes. So I chucked the stupidity away and decided to take a chance with the swim wear idea and see how it goes. Which is the very reason why I’m writing this post today. To say it was easy, I’d be lying – it turns out the swimwear or the apparel industry is more complex than I imagined.I don’t have a background in fashion, I’m a medical professional. I diagnose and fix problems, teach people how to overcome problems after something shockingly traumatic has happened that changes their function in someway or the other. So I knew I was stepping into an unknown territory and I dared to take my chance and I did… I still am. While I still dream of exploring other creative ventures, my focus remains on ShweShweKini. I enjoy every moment and every challenge. I appreciate the attention it has received in South Africa and slowly by people overseas. The best is yet to come and while I prepare for that , there is still so much work to be done and so much more to learn.
My inspiration came out of a desire to create for myself something that I could do and never feel tired of doing. My inspiration comes from the Shweshwe dresses which my mother used to wear whenever I was a child and I used to marvel at the different patterns and colours of the Shweshwe fabric.
As a driven career girl, I found that most of the career paths or jobs I landed always missed something and I was tired of the idea of having a system dictate when I should retire and having to balance your life around a 9-5. I needed a space to define myself and where I could be my own boss and I have found that in Shweshwekini.
As a new entrepreneur there is so much to learn about the industry and the business of fashion. I have to wear several hats at ones – I am my own manager, assistant, driver, creative designer, accountant and social media manager at the moment. So I have to know the ins and out of the company. I keep my eyes open and my ears to the ground to be able to see how people are seeing the brand and what they are saying. So far it has only been good things and useful criticism. I am learning as I go and hopefully I will be able to start employing people who can fill those many other functions for me. While I’m add it, I still work a normal job – which pays the bills and one where I am currently happy.
I work with Thabo Makhetha who is my mentor and a Sotho Girl from Lesotho just like me. As a world reknowned designer , she is so knowledgeable in the industry and has learnt a lot , enough to mentor me on the unexpected and to enable me to build a strong solid brand. We collaborated on a Spring/Summer collection at the Nelson Mandela Bay Fashion week from 12 October 2017 – 15 October 2017. I was excited to attend my very first fashion show as a designer and it was a dream come true to share a stage with Thabo Makhetha, someone I had admired in the fashion scene before I even thought of my brand.
It is amazing what media can do for a brand and positive media exposure is important when building a reputable brand. The month of August in South Africa is dedicated to Women as we celebrate women’s month. Last year’s women’s month I was honoured to be featured in Elle South Africa as one of the women in society who #MakeThingsHappen. I was featured for my work with Shweshwekini and my journey through my masters degree as a way of inspiring women to do great things where ever they are.Read the article here: Elle South Africa Feature
Ahead of the Nelson Mandela Bay Fashion Week, I was featured in the Herald Live which is a Port Elizabeth based newspaper , very well known and respected in our country.Read article here: The Herald Live Feature Then at the beginning of the year, I was approached by the Independent Media who interviewed me and this saw my story make it’s way into many newspaper articles across the country. I found myself on the Lifestyle cover of one of Cape Town’s most oldest newspaper – The Cape Argus. Again this year in February I was named one of the top 40 Emerging Creatives by Design Indaba. I was honoured to exhibit my work at Design Indaba week from 19 to 24 February 2018. Read more about my story here : Design Indaba Emerging Creative The journey continues. I’m so excited to showcase new items this coming summer season. To shop any of my items, please visit www.zando.co.za and search ‘ShweShweKini’. Thank you for being part of my journey. xoxo