Fashion Designers graduate!

Out of the seven women who enrolled in the design and sewing course at the Gateway School of Fashion in April 2015, five women managed to finish the course and get their certificate on fashion design. The women in Swayimane had been doing Basic Business Skills Training through Zimele at the beginning of 2015 and through this outlined their dream of starting a fashion business.  Zimele staff set out to source the relevant technical skills training for them after they saw the ladies’ enthusiasm and passion for this dream. The women managed to juggle other commitments and travelled into Pietermaritzburg each week for the course at reduced transport rates which they themselves managed to negotiate.  The women would pack healthy food and set off as a group making sure they supported one another as they set about achieving their dream! Never had they imagined that they could have the opportunity to study and let alone in a big city.

Through the year the women started to form a strong bond and the idea of starting their own business as a group became a reality. They realised that working together would make them more successful than as individuals.  They would be able to compensate for each other in areas such as sewing, quality control, design and managing the business.   The group decided on the name for the business, “Asiqhakaze Fashion Design”.  “As our name says and means, Asiqhakaze, we want to shine like a flower so that other ladies can see that everything can happen only if you believe in it”. (Nok’phiwo Mnyaka – group member).

Impact stories
Gugu Mhlongo

Gugu Mhlongo is an active SHG and cluster member.  She is a driving force in the crèche and life skills programmes. She became a Zimele craft member as she likes to be involved in Zimele’s programmes and to increase her financial earnings. However she had to drop out of the craft programme as she recognised she was over committed even though it meant more income. This still did not destroy her vision of becoming a fashion designer with her own unique design style.  The design and sewing course has been a dream come true for Gugu even though she faces many challenges from financial security and all her other commitments.

She was eager to share her story and what the course has done for her.  She was proud to tell of the things she learnt at the course from using a sewing machine, detailed cutting work, pattern-making to the making of skirts, trousers, shirts and dresses.

Before she attended the sewing training, Gugu was just doing small sewing tasks like alterations and fixing of garments.  Now she is able to make a dress from scratch.  She says she will now make her own clothes and uniforms for her family as opposed to buying anything in a shop. She says her husband cannot wait to get a new pair of trousers from her!
Ladies with RosettaDSC_0057

Above L-R: Ladies with their graduation certificates & Gugu Mhlongo with her model and teacher at Gateway School of Fashion.

Nok’phiwo Mnyaka

Nok’phiwo Mnyaka is 37 years old and a Zimele SHG member. She had never sewn anything before the course began (even by hand) and always thought she never had any flair or talent to sew.  Studying sewing and design was a big first for Nok’phiwo.

At the graduation fashion show Nok’phiwo received 3rd place.  She was very surprised when she received this award as it was her first time to take on any form of sewing training let alone designing.  She says “I was very surprised and proud of myself by getting this position because there were so many women who got the skill and started sewing training earlier than me and I never thought I had any great skill on sewing”.

Nok’phiwo highlighted a very important part of the training process and journey she went through.  She said the training course was not only about sewing but that the teachers taught them how to take care of themselves from youth up to motherhood, bible studies and some computer training.  The women had to use Word to help create an invitation card.

Nok’phiwo can hardly believe how far she has come.  She says she never dreamed of being able to sew and now she is making dresses, people are buying them and wearing them to special occasions, ceremonies and to town. Well done Nok’phiwo!

Above L – R: Nok’phiwo with one of her teachers & model and Nok’phiwo being congratulated when winning 3rd place in the fashion show.


Above: Ladies with their teachers and second from right Lungile Zondi who received 2nd place at the fashion show.

Report by: Malusi Ziqubu (Business Trainer).


Breaking News

Zimele Community mentioned in the Meander Chronicle

Get Involved

Craft Catalogue

Meet our Visitors

South African-based donors will score points in terms of socio-economic development and skills and enterprise development for BEE ratings.

Sign up for Website Mailing List
* = required field