Starting any kind of business requires tenacity, endurance and dedication. Setting up a fashion business is all the more challenging because this is a hyper competitive industry and a very complex one as well, even at the smallest of scales.
The fun and pleasure of creating your own designs can start at any age. Once the fashion bug takes hold, it can be a very exciting and exhilarating time. The adrenaline will constantly be stirred by the creation and completion of new designs.
A fashion designer whose fashion design talent was sown in her own home and at a very early age was, Sivuyisiwe Bebeza. She is a self-taught fashion designer, based in Durban – KwaZulu Natal, whose journey began at the age of 10 years old.
“My dad had bought bicycles for my siblings and I, but I couldn’t ride mine. So, I asked him to buy me a sewing machine toy instead, and he did. That’s how my love for sewing began. In Primary School, I took sewing classes and sewed dresses for dolls. I also did handcraft and flower arranging, so I was very creative from a young age. Then finally, in 2011 my cousin and I decided to take the sewing to another level and turn it into a business. We created and sold clothes for a while. However, it didn’t work out because we both had jobs and couldn’t focus fully on the business. So, it slowly fizzled away,” says Sivuyisiwe.
Apart from mastering the design process, something that some of the smartest designers do next is to find a business partner they can trust, who brings different skills and connections to the table. Often it is a spouse and family at large.
About two years ago, Sivuyisiwe talked her cousin into re-establishing the business. They both realised the need to live out their dream of owning their own clothing label. They retraced their footsteps and re-launched their clothing label and named it Sun Kissed.
Having a clear design methodology is crucial to getting the best out of your abilities. Clearly, you won’t be able to do absolutely everything yourself. This is where you need to find other people who believe in you to join your team or provide support in some other way. Doing a self-assessment of your skills and abilities will tell you what gaps you will need to fill in order to make your business work.
Sivuyisiwe recruited her family members, people she can trust into her business. “I work with an amazing team which comprises of family members. They handle different areas of the business and this helps to keep the business afloat,” she says.
She says their design aesthetic is not explicit but inspired by the African culture. “We don’t have a specific design aesthetic, we just go for whatever inspires us at the time, be it Afrocentric or vintage, and we don’t want to limit ourselves to a specific category. Our designs are inspired by colour and being African. We use African print a lot because we are Africans. Growing up, I moved around and lived in different places and have experienced different cultures and this comes through in my designs,” she says.
She has designed for celebrities such as radio host and former Idol – Minnie Ntuli. “She is an amazing, caring and genuine person,” she says.
“All our clothes are custom-made. Our designs are unique because we build relationships with our clients and get our clients involved in the design process to give them the best. Our hopes and aspirations include growing the business and adding accessories into our designs. We have started to incorporate menswear into our designs. We have started designing shirts and we want to go into a full menswear range and to also accommodate the whole family. We want to be a household name!” she concludes.