Mdantsane fashion duo make impressive debut at national exhibition
Visions are literally "becoming" for a duo of Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) funded Mdantsane young designers who wowed an international audience at the annual Department of Trade and Industry (dti) South African Handmade Collection exhibition with their new line of kitchen accessories.
Zikhona Vuyi and Zandile Cakatiso, co-owners of emerging design house Visions Becoming, generated so much interest for their fashion accessories that they have been asked for samples by several design houses. Accessory shop Loads of Living have requested samples from them for its Mzantsi Collection aimed at South African influenced products.
New York design house, Anthropology, have requested samples from the young designers for future orders. The duo are also on schedule to launch their casual clothing line for Design Inc. which will open in the new Hemmingways Super Regional Mall in late September.
"Zikhona and Zandile's fashion accessories were most popular with the Germans and Americans at the exhibition which featured an Eastern Cape stand with nine crafters and an Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) stand with four crafters.
"Their line was so impressive that the dti representative at the South African embassy in Germany immediately asked that they participate at the renowned German Ambiente exhibition in February next year," says ECDC craft project manager Melanie Mahona.
Mahona explains that the exhibition gives crafters such as Zikhona and Zandile secured entry into the export market. The dti arranges import and export buyers and ECDC helps its crafters meet all the requirements for the export market.
In preparation for the exhibition, ECDC pays for the crafters flight, accommodation and freight costs. In addition the corporation ensures that products are market-ready through research and product development.
Operating from a granny flat in Vincent, the Walter Sisulu University of Technology (WSU) design graduates are set on their vision of creating a "one-stop shop" fashion house. The one-stop shop will include a boutique, production, hiring services, and a beauty spa.
"Our vision is to offer a comprehensive service from clothes production to a beauty spa, backed by design excellence. Although we are emerging designers, we believe there is no end to ideas.
"We want to create an environment in which we are fully adept at changing fashion trends so we are relevant to fashion needs of our time. That's why we named our business Visions Becoming," explains Zikhona.
Zikhona says they are proud that they represented a province that boasted two ceramists, Meshack Masuku from Grahamstown and Vulisango Ndwandwa from Port Elizabeth on the icon stand, which recognises "crafters who have reached the climax in the mastery of their specific art."
Taking a quick tour of their modest design premises, one would be hard-pressed to believe that this duo produces designs of exceptional quality which have generated international interest.
A quick look at their accolades provides a different perspective. At the ages of 25 and 27 respectively, the duo are already members of the Border-Kei Chamber of Commerce (BKCOB).
They have won the emerging entrepreneur category in the Business Achiever awards run by television personality Basetsane Khumalo. They were also runner-ups of the Youth Entrepreneur (YEN) awards by Transformation Africa for the Eastern Cape. They have also been nominated for the national YEN awards and for the local awards again.
The duo, which has participated in the Business Unlimited Expo and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, also employ three permanent staff who mostly do production. ECDC paid for their participation at the festival to test their product in the market.
Mahona says that despite the economic downturn, this year's exhibition was the most profitable for the province in terms of sales since 2004. The Eastern Cape made sales of R80, 000 compared to the R30, 000 made last year. This year the Eastern Cape was second to the Western Cape whose sales roped R300, 000.
"Our range included the first exhibition of African dolls outside the Eastern Cape which generated R10, 000, driftwood furniture, embroidery, soft furnishings, free stitch and wood turning among others," says Mahona.
The province also came back with confirmed orders worth R115, 000 and R209, 000 of unconfirmed orders.
"We are excited that these two young women are demonstrating the power of small businesses as agents of job and wealth creation," says Mahona.
Article Tags: fashion | enterprise development | crafts | Mdantsane | WSU | job creation | South African Handmade Collection