Meet Nonhanhla Mavuso. The 24-year old Swazi fashion designer talked to us about her love for fashion, her inspirations and aspirations for the ZoeEnhle African Clothing brand.
Currently serving as a Human Resource Intern at the National Disaster Management Authority (Swaziland), Nhle, as her friends call her, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource from the University of Johannesburg in South Africa says she draws her inspiration from her family and friends who support her vision effortlessly.
“I can sing, I love reading fictional stories, I joke around a lot but ironically I am also short tempered. How ironic, right? [she laughs softly].” Her designs are a mix of natural flair and formal training on the basics of sewing garments. “Never to take your clients for granted because they are the ones who make your business successful.”
On how she got started:
From a tender age, I’ve always been someone who loved drawing and in my high school years I started designing clothes and would sometimes sell my designs to individuals. When I went to complete my tertiary education, designing took a back seat. Long story short, after my studies I came back to Swaziland, continued where I had left off with design as a part time activity. The drawing part I taught myself, but because I needed to know how to sew my garments as well, I enrolled at Zodwas Exclusive Designs for a year. Zoe is my mother’s second name and Nhle is my nickname hence I brought the two names together to come up with Zoenhle, my clothing line.”
On the evolution and growing pains of Zoenhle African Clothing:
“It’s been tough as expected, you can’t be an entrepreneur and expect things to go your way, sometimes I feel like giving up, especially on days when I feel like my work is not good enough, but I pick myself up. My work has definitely grown and improved from when I started, and its gaining momentum. I design and sew African garments, sometimes mix fine African prints with normal fabrics that complement each other in colour and in texture. Even though the design may be the same, with each client, I make sure the material differs from the other.”
On the tricky creativity/commerce equilibrium:
“Well it’s all about knowing your craft and trying to be as different as you can be but still making something easy with the eye and not trying too hard.”
On her biggest fashioh design achievement yet:
“I’ve been invited to partake or showcase my designs in a few events and that, for me is an honour which shows that Zoenhle is recognised. Expanding my designs and them reaching places outside Swaziland is the ultimate goal.”
On her inspirations:
“Words from my aunt, “Some days you will wake up and want to leave it all, and its okay because it’s a normal feeling we all get. Just make sure you don’t feel like that for the rest of your life” This is the best piece of advise I have received in my journey. I inspire myself. I look up Instagram accounts to see what is trending most that season from dresses, coats, shirts etc… And sew anything along those lines. I must mention Monte Couture by Mbali, she’s one of the best things that has ever happened to our local fashion industry respect and love her work.”
On the Swazi arts industry:
“I like how the Swazi arts industry is growing fast; individuals creating events to promote and acknowledge each other, events like the Fun town flea market with a mixture of music, food and entrepreneurs’ with their stalls, the Swazi style collectives famously known as grounders market hosting events and calling out new fresh talent to perform from poetry to singing and also allowing entrepreneurs’ to come showcase, really, it’s a beautiful thing. Moving forward, I would like to see people respect and take their work seriously before you expect people to do likewise. Secondly put maximum effort into making sure you produce polished goods that will make consumers spread the word. Thirdly, it is to take criticism positively… we have a tendency of saying that so and so is jealous of my work whereas that person is trying to help you, sometimes criticism comes from a good heart with good intention.
“Words by Raymond Hull, “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away” are words that I live by everyday.”
Follow her on Instagram: @zoenhle_african_clothing_zac