23 May SELF-STARTERS: SUSTAINABLE KNITWEAR BRAND, NTHATUOA
South African sustainable fashion brand Nthatuoa combines wearability and unique designs, making it a go-to for well-made knitwear. Alongside the limited series knitwear range, the brand is also known for elevated basics, two-pieces, crochet bags, and everyday staples, using up-cycled fabrics, coffee cotton and cotton yarn. Priced on the higher side, these pieces are an investment, but ones you will love and wear for a lifetime. Build a stylish and eco-conscious wardrobe with these designs!
Nthatuoa is a Sesotho word, which means ‘My loved one’ – and instills a classic hand-made with love message for each knitted piece. We chatted with Creative Director Nthatuoa Makhapha, about how she started a creative business in South Africa, and how she’s found success during this process. Read the full article below:
” My mother used to take me and my sisters to the workshops that she hosted for the artisans around my region. This is where I got to learn crafting in general. It has occupied me for most of my childhood. I would take some of my sister’s old jeans and use them to cover my books, make them just a little unique (of course I get very ashamed to think I cut her jeans and she still gets mad) ”
Where does your story begin? Take us on a journey!
”I attended the University of Namibia, and obtained an Honors degree in LL.; same program I was doing the previous years. On the 13th of August 2019, I decided to move to Cape Town. I remember the date very well because my roommates did not believe me when I said I wanted to change cities. The very first day I arrived on the 14th of August 2019, that is when I decided to take a gap year and pursue crafts. This was not an easy thing to do because my parents not only expected me to graduate that year (I did not register to go back). But I trusted that whatever I will be doing in Cape Town, I will make it work. And that is the day the brand was born – from my disposition to turn natural talent into a viable business.”
What do you do during the day, and does that in any way inspire you in the design process of these garments?
”I usually start my day with praying and journaling, and just trying to see what my goals are. I also go through what I can do that day to achieve something. After my morning routine I spent most of the day trying to figure out what I can design. I am also a part of the Plain Tiger Sustainability Accelerator, which is designed to mentor young designers. So, when we have sessions, I am reading through notes and getting ready for those sessions.”
” In between crocheting I read a lot about Sustainable Fashion. I watch videos on how to build a sustainable business. I drink lots and lots of tea in between… maybe 5 cups a day. I love chamomile tea and green tea. I always make sure that I meditate at some point each day, even if it is just for 5 minutes. This makes such a huge difference. When I started, I realised I am much more calm and I am more inspired. I honestly cannot explain it better than scientists but there is something in meditation ”
Your brand has existed for 3 years so far. And there are some new and exciting plans in store, which starts as soon as this month of May! Tell us about your plans to grow your network, whilst building a team of 8 ladies who join on board this adventure.
”The brand is one of many that is sponsored by Plain Tiger, through a collaboration between their Plain Tiger Sustainability Accelerator program and the Cape Town Fashion Council. I am learning so much from the programme: how to narrate my story, how to turn Industry waste into garments and many other things. I think this is by far the best thing that has happened to me this year in terms of networking and mentorship. It has also played a huge role in molding me into a better leader. The brand is about to expand its team and this is by far the most exciting news. I feel that I have this one opportunity to contribute somehow to society.”
” As a brand, we have keep a close eye on H&M, because they really do take the initiative to partner with small local brands each year. And it is Nthatuoa’s goal to be one of these brands they collaborate with. This will not only bring a huge positive impact for employment, but also it will affect our talent and skill recognition as well in the international market ”
Owning a clothing brand that truly embraces a niche such as crochet and knitting, which has become a lucrative trend-setter these days, is on so many younger designers’ dream job list. Is it a worthwhile proposition and would you suggest people try their hand at it? Any tips and recommendations?
”Both skills are very therapeutic. I would highly recommend people to learn not only to pursue it as a business but it’s so beneficial for you mentally as well.”
Looking into 2022, what is next for Nthatuoa Crafts?
”The brand is looking into attending more fashion shows and showcasing its designs. I am still learning so much about the fashion industry and I do not wish to rush the process. But this year I would love to showcase designs in South Africa and Lagos Fashion week. Like I mentioned before, I want to learn as much as I can about myself as an African designer, whilst also learning about different cultures and using this as an inspiration for my next collection which I hope will be released in June.”
Elsewhere in Fashion, G-Star Raw Expands Its Certified Tailors Program To South Africa.