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Mpumalanga’s Self-made Fashion Designer, Moipone Chiloane

Meet Mpumalanga’s self-made Fashion Design entrepreneur Moipone Chiloane, founder of ‘Mira Designz’.

Who is Moipone Chiloane?

I am a 23 year old young woman from Boelang Village in Mpumalanga. A self-taught fashion designer, model and stylist. I design garments on a small scale, market them and engage the local fashion industry through my artistry and sales. I am an entrepreneur in the retail segment of the industry who began her career as a stylist in her youth.

How did you become so versatile in your involvement in fashion?

I grew up loving fashion, always impressed people with my clothing choices. My plan was always to study fashion after matric, however I didn’t get a spot in any of the programmes that I applied for.  I unfortunately could not afford private schooling and had nobody to financially support my enrolment in the more expensive courses. So when lockdown started, I literally went and bought a sewing machine with no knowledge of how to use one. I subsequently picked a day to sit down and just start sewing.  I spent a lot of time online, learning about the functions of the machine on YouTube and other platforms. My first design was a T-shirt, which I organized a photoshoot for. The reception of this piece is what led to the birth of my design company.

Tell us more about your company ‘Mira Designz’

I founded this company with very little capital, starting with that one sewing machine. Mira Designz revolves around re-designing pieces and finding innovative ways of creating clothing.  It  is inclusive of both women and men’s wear and currently operates online. My vision is to open a chain of stores featuring my work and influencing the clothing scene with my unique outlook on style.

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How did you grow your brand to what it is now?

Social media has been a great driving force behind my brand. The fashion industry is niche in my community but I receive a lot of support from it.  I’m inspired by the work of others and the ways in which it can be improved or done differently. I even started a Youtube channel dedicated to fashion. My  channel will teach you how to dress, how to style different forms of clothing and how to revive your old clothing.  Matching colours and prints is a lot less complicated than it seems and I can help make it easier with my channel.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Sometimes customers come to me with designs they have seen on the internet and with me being a self-taught seamstress it may be above my skill set. This type of interaction has sometimes put doubt in me about my capabilities and left me wondering if I should give up. So keeping myself motivated was challenging. However, I kept encouraging myself to push through the doubt and not worry about where I am right now. Also, negative feedback about my failures in the past were hard to process. The point is to keep pushing and improving regardless. So I am constantly upgrading my skills and learning each day.

What advice would you give to other young people struggling to make ends meet?

I would tell them how important it is to not give up on yourself. Do not lose hope. If you cannot afford beauty school, fashion school, tech school or whatever qualification your passion needs you to have, do some research and find out what resources are available to you. Go on the internet and learn as much as you can. You can develop a unique skillset in this way and even gain enough knowledge to create something new in your field of interest. Wake up every morning and teach yourself something. The rest will follow.

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