FASHIONABLE PERSISTENCE SEES SUCCESS
*Caption: Thuli Mkhize poses for the camera in one of her designs
Written by: Nokuthula Mabuza
Fashion is more than just a collection of clothes- the youth of today have turned it into a lifestyle. Even though some trendy garments leave some people confused, those who design them are proud.
29-year-old, Thuli Mkhize is a proudly South African designer, born and raised in KwaDambuza, Durban. She started her company Stitches Pride in the year 2014 at Protea House, and it proved to be growing fast. It has received big orders for Durban July garments for the past two years. The company does all kinds of clothing from parties, 21st outfits to wedding dresses and more.
She has never dreamt of being a designer or had interest in fashion before. Mkhize was an Office Management and Technology student at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in 2009.
In her final year in 2011, she was involved in a car accident and as a result, she could not write her final examinations, which led to her dropping out of school.
“I felt like the world had shut its doors in the last minute of my glory,” said Mkhize.
Sitting at home and not being able to walk properly propelled her to dream bigger, and become hungrier to be something in life.
She recalls her first sewing love after helping her aunt sew matric dance dresses for several months after she had been out of hospital. She learnt how to sew and she knew then that she had to make money out of it.
As time went by, she became fonder of designs, and began cutting pictures from magazines and pasted every dress that she liked on her bedroom wall. Even though she could not walk properly, later that year she applied again at DUT to pursue a career in Fashion Design.
Her journey of fashion started in 2012 but due to financial problems and declines from NSFAS, she took only one year of the course. In the following year (2013) she found a job at Chatsworth hoping to learn but she was merely cutting the fabrics and not designing, also, at times they would not get paid. She then decided to start her own business in 2014.
“I learnt that fashion was not for the faint hearted and it is not an overnight success,” said Mkhize.
She hopes her designs will one day run from South Africa to the world at large or any place further than her dreams, and establishing her brand to Truworths and Legit.
Mkhize draws inspiration from designers such as David Tlale and Alexander McQueen. She looks up to them because they are not just designers, but also trendsetters that wear their own designs and they apply unpredictable use and understanding of fabric, colour and texture.
Mafuthi Ndlangulana, a friend and a colleague said that Mkhize is very dedicated to her job.
“Thuli does not have much time to hang out spends most of her time sewing, she takes her job seriously and she rather have sleepless night than not finishing an order on time,” said Nhlangulana.
Like any other person, she faced challenges in finding a suitable place that was close to the Central Business District (CBD) but later found a small office to work from in Protea House. However, her biggest challenges are clients, as they sometimes refuse to pay deposits but expect their orders to be completed.
Running at a loss also troubles her because at times she makes dresses without their deposits being paid, and when owners do not collect them, she ends up having designs with no one to purchase them.
“The challenges I’m facing right now is being a fashion designer and learning to become a businesswoman while making the business grow by looking for a bigger office,” said Mkhize.
According to Mkhize fashion is not all about glam but dedication, meaning a lot of late nights, sometimes none, and disappointments, but mostly hard work as working hard pays and the sky is never the limit.
“Remember you have plans but God have changes for your life and belive me they are all worth it,” concluded Mkhize.