I bought this light blue denim fabric back in 2015 when I was still working as a real estate agent here in Cape Town and starting to summon up enough courage to try starting a fashion brand once again (3rd attempt).
I saw it at a local fabric store, loved it, asked them to first keep it aside for a bit, then came back and bought the entire roll, I wanted it so much😆
I envisioned it being unisex dress shirts, or loose-fitting dungarees, there were so many ideas for it.
The first thing I made for myself with the fabric was a cute lil dress in a style very popular back then.
As my idea for what I wanted the brand to be evolved, things obviously changed. Instead of starting with clothes, I decided to start small with the idea of growing organically.
I've always been a bit of a bag lady, and after doing the research, reading articles on the current state of fashion, trend reports, etc, I decided bags would be the launch point to start the brand.
(The first bag was actually going to be a unisex roll top backpack! I kid you not! Which were the first samples I made back in early 2017!😆)
I went on to officially "launch" the brand right here on IG in April 2018!
(interesting bit of info: my first customers before I even launched the bags were my landlords! of my apartment I've lived in for the longest of time now! So amazing!)
It has not been the easiest and smoothest start for my brand and in establishing a place for itself in the fashion industry here in SA.
But this is common within the industry anywhere and everywhere in the world.
When you decide to go into fashion, let alone any other creative industry, as an entrepreneur you need to know you've chosen a long road that requires so much passion, strength, determination, grit, and you putting in a lot of hard work to brave the unknowns of what lies ahead and make it. It's like a never-ending journey. #life
And now, here we all are in 2020.
Who would have thought this is where we'd all find ourselves.
Braving an unforecasted storm none of us wanted and most certainly was not prepared for.
But the amazing thing about the human spirit is that we have the most extraordinary ability built inside of us for survival. It's innate, we want to live! So for most of us - coping mechanisms and all - we'll switch and go into this resilient, and honestly mindblowinly courageous, survival mode! It's so fascinating!
You saw so many of our local brands, for the sake of survival, heed the call and suddenly adapt into making facemasks.
Granted, I was late to the party because it took my stubborn self forever to wrap my head around all that was happening.
But I had to and wanted to do something.
And so I applied for my essential service certificate in latish April, got it, and soon started working on the samples and getting the right shape for the masks.
Mind you, I didn't even have a domestic sewing machine at home anymore. So my mother (who is experiencing Lockdown in Angola) surprisingly came to my rescue and provided an old Elna sewing machine that she had left with my sister.
To be honest, at first I did not think I had any resources to suddenly pivot into making facemasks like everybody else was.
So I took stock of what I had to work with.
I now had a sewing machine. So the next thing I would need was fabric.
And there was that roll of blue denim fabric (as well as so many others I had collected or was given to me throughout the years) suddenly called into action for a new purpose.
I think most of us thought making facemasks would be simple and easy enough..
Not!!! I mean, with one fell swoop an entirely new product range was suddenly simultaneously introduced worldwide to our entire planet!🤯
It requires as much amount of time, work, and effort to do this as anything else we would normally do.
Again, it takes so much strength and courage to start a business.
And it takes so much strength and courage to pick yourself up and volunteer yourself and your business into answering a call.
This is how much we love and believe in the brands we've created, the work of our hands, as well as our country.
Because as much as it's been challenging, it has also been an opportunity.
An opportunity given to survive.
And because local production was mandated, look at all the wonders and life it's breathed into our local textile industry.
I know that as I give the work of sewing our facemasks to other women, I am also ensuring that their livelihoods are looked after, that they can still provide to put food on their family's tables.
Yes, it's also been weird having to incorporate a new accessory into our everyday lives - apparently, we're in it for the long haul. We all have opinions on it. Some want to wear them and protect themselves as well as others, some are refusing the change.
This is really where the spirit of Ubuntu comes in.
It's got nothing to do with our opinions and how we feel about something as individuals. It's about all of us and taking considerate actions for the sake of ourselves as a national and then worldwide collective.
We are a global community, and one thing this pandemic has shown is how truly connected we all are. The decisions we make, whether we like it or not, does have the capability to affect us as a whole.
So, help where you can, support where you can, purchase facemasks where you can.
You can purchase our facemasks here.
Even if you feel you've already gotten enough facemasks, purchase some to donate (here) so that by helping us brave this storm and keep our business afloat, you also give us the opportunity to help so many others in dire need and without any or enough resources to get through this.
Every small act we choose to step into has a domino effect to affect and reach others as well. Let's make sure they are positive ones.
So, as our economy slowly opens here in South Africa, wear a face mask when out in public, sanitize and wash your hands, social distance, and let's get through this with care for one another.