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Departments of Fashion and Textiles together with Fine Art and Jewellery Design took to the online stage on the second day of the Faculty of Arts and Design (FoAD) Entrepreneurship Week 2020 to discuss Fashion Entrepreneurship for Young People in South Africa During the Digital and Uncertain Era, on Microsoft Teams on Tuesday, 27 October 2020. 

The guest speakers were the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) alumni from both departments namely: Balini Naidoo Engelbrecht, Katekani Moreku, Casey Jeanne, Sibhekile Ndlangisa, Kenneth Shandu and Diva Mobedi, a final year Fashion and Textiles student. 

The webinar was facilitated by the lecturers, Tando Mbanga from Fashion and Textiles and David Tshabalala from Fine Art and Jewellery Design. 

Mbanga said the panel consisted of four young, inspiring designers and two artists that are making a mark in their chosen fields. 

“It is exciting to have these young people who will be able to present what they have done to succeed. It is always nice to have these platforms so that the experts can share their experiences with our own students. We will hear how the positioned themselves during the digital and unknown future,” said Mbanga. 

The first speaker was Fashion and Textiles Alumnus, Moreku, who currently has his exclusive summer range, he displayed at the Pick ‘n Pay Clothing stores and online, as part of Pick ‘n Pay’s campaign to collaborate with young designers. 

He said his clothing brand was established during his studies at DUT where in 2017 he won the Young Designer Award at the Vodacom Durban July. 

“My work is rooted in the culture that I come from Sepulana, a sub-culture under the Sepedi umbrella that uses bright and bold colours. When I was studying I had the opportunity to be mentored by Gideon, one of the big designers we look up to as youngsters. He told me to always find a place where I can place myself within the industry that is completely accustomed to me. When I was working on my third-year collection, I started researching on my culture, I learnt that everything I need is within this culture,” said Moreku. 

He said his recent collaboration with Pick ‘n Pay is a good sign for him that young designers will get opportunities to build, showcase and turn their talent into businesses.  

Engelbrecht, who is a fashion designer and inventor of the braille clothing brand, completed her BTech in Fashion and Textiles and graduated with Cum Laude at DUT. 

She said her future inspiration is to encourage more designers to think outside the box and use designs to address some of the challenges people face and to develop and uplift the youth of local communities. 

“As designers we have a social responsibility, which is working with an individual or organisation to benefit society as large. We need to first identify a need for a specific target market in our surroundings. You need to look in your community, use your skills to solve a problem faced dearly by individuals. Do research on how you will approach the challenge faced in your community as being a creative. It must be something close to your heart that adds value and creates awareness in your community,” said Engelbrecht. 

She stated that her business idea came from having an uncle that was visually impaired which had made her aware of his daily struggles when it came to identifying clothing.  

Mobedi, a final-year Fashion and Textiles student, said her business focuses on enhancing the Muslim wear known as the modest wear. 

“Before enrolling at DUT in 2017, I had a dream of enhancing modest wear. As a Muslim, I grew up in an environment where people did not want to express their feelings because they felt it was not a Muslim wear thing. The religion did not actually stop us from expressing our feelings, but people did not want to touch that because they did not understand the religion,” said Mobedi. 

She also runs a skills project that aims to equip unemployed individuals with sewing skills, to help them find jobs at local factories or start their own small businesses. 

Jeanne who is known for dressing local and international celebrities and holds a Master’s Degree in Fashion and Textile from DUT. 

She has grown from a small town dreamer to a national sensation with a reputation in the local bridal industry. 

Jeanne said that the aim in her business is to never repeat, to always innovate and always inspire. 

“Looking at my pictures you would think that this girl has had it easy, got it good and has been handed everything to her. I want to jump back a decade, I will get into my personal details as I believe they influence how you run your business and your business decisions. I had a challenging home situation which forced me to move out. I had no support from family or friends, no money, no place to stay. I was working every job that I could to pay for my studies that were self-funded. I already had clients but my situation and circumstances were not reflecting that, I was embarrassed to show my clients a room I rented closer to college,” said Jeanne. 

Tshabalala facilitated the second session where the Fine Arts Alumnus, Shandu and Ndlangisa also shared their journey to success. 

He commended them both for flying the DUT flag high by their continuous dedication and hard work in the arts industry. 

Pictured: DUT’s Fashion and Textiles Alumni, Katekani Moreku, Casey Jeanne and Balini Naidoo Engelbrecht. (Pictures taken from Facebook)

Simangele Zuma 

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