One thing I love about being a blogger is that I get to meet people from different parts of the country, continent, talk about different parts of the world from diverse cultural backgrounds. Like everything else, blogging has its perils but these interactions make it all worth it.
One of those interesting individuals happens to be a beautiful and vibrant young woman from Kwa-Zulu Natal Province. Her name is Samkelisiwe Mhlongo and she is a fashion design student with a passion for African fabric…….
I got a chance to interview her plus feed off her energy, dedication and enthusiasm. She is very in tune with who she is and what she is all about. Ladies and Gents, please get to know Sam and feast your eyes on some of the items from her stunning jewellery collection……
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Tell us more about you? Who is Samkelisiwe, Where were you born? Where do you live?
I was born in KwaZulu Natal Province. I spent most of my childhood at my gran’s house. My dad passed away when we were very young I am the only girl with two brothers. My mom and I are really close.
I am a very shy person in crowd situation, I don’t like parties or clubs, I like being at home reading or watching a comedy series. I am very boring… I prefer to get to know a person on a one basis. I am very talkative. I have a son who is turning two next week on the 6th…He means everything to me. I’m very family orientated and I put them first. I love to laugh and people think I’m strict and conservative, which makes me laugh. I do take life very seriously yes. I’m just a sensitive soul with a sweet tooth of note and I am a Libra.
At what stage in your life did you realize your passion for African fashion? Basically, what inspired you to study fashion?
I have always loved clothes, as a kid I used to sew for my doll. It’s just something I have wanted to do all my life.
I was in Grade 10, when we were reading a book, Comfort Herself about an American girl who comes to live with her father’s family in Ghana. The way the narrator describes Ghana, the culture, the people and the food made me want to learn more about Africa and its people. It is from reading that book that I discovered the Kente cloth, colourful wax print fabrics worn in most African countries.
What are you currently doing now?
Last year I was doing Fashion at The Durban University of Technology but this year I decided to study Fashion Part time at Lisof. I wanted to focus more on my son and Afrolusa, my business. I plan to move to either Pretoria/Joburg to pursue full-time studies at Lisof.
How do you balance all of that? I mean being a student, mother, fiancé and running your own business?
I have a very supportive family around me. My mom and my fiance’ help me a lot. Also before I do something I am not sure of I ask for their input as well as my brothers’ and my friends. Being a student is not easy, motherhood and a business.
Do you create the stuff you are selling? What made you decide to create your own stuff and sell it?
I’m not a fan of gold /plastic jewellery. I would always love a bangle or neckpiece but the colour will put me off. I had lots of fabric that I usually use for sewing. One day I had an idea to use that on a bangle. It looked good and I showed my friends who liked it, my family and fiancé’ encouraged me to sell the jewellery pieces and that’s how AfroLusa was born.
What are your future aspirations? In other words where do you see yourself let’s say in the next five years?
I would like to grow Afrolusa and see my work in magazines. Graduate from fashion school and I have started making clothes as well. It would be nice to launch a range.
What would be your advice to young people who want to run their own businesses and pursue their dreams?
My advice to other young people, is jump in…Don’t wait till you have thousands of Rands in your account, that day may never come. Start where you are. Also dream big and knock on people’s doors that can offer you great opportunities. Be humble.
Now, Let’s talk about food. Do you know how to cook? Who taught you? What is your favourite dish?
I learned cooking from my mom and gran. My favourite dish is a sweetcorn and cheese dumpling. It’s a modern version of idombolo (dumpling).
Do you know traditional dishes from your culture? Can you prepare?
I know a few dishes yes and I know how to prepare them.
If you were out of the country, what would you miss about South Africa?
I would miss the laughter. South Africans laugh in good and in bad times and we have a good sense of humour. I would also miss the weather and amagwinya (fatcakes/ vetkoek).
Lastly, how can people get hold of your stuff? Where can they place an order?
You can order my jewellery on the Facebook page: Afrolusa
By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Or buy here
Contact Samkelisiwe on twitter:@AfroLusa