Apologies for the day delay but I’ve been home and so that’s meant that things have been a tad all over the place.
Today’s post is all about a local talent that I have the pleasure of knowing, Rufaro Fanadzo from the brand Afara. We sat down recently at the Folk Coffee Anthropology Shop in Cape Town to discuss her latest range of chokers and the fact that she will be selling them at the Brownsense Market (354 Albert Rd, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa). The links regarding the marketing will be featured at the end of the article.
Rufaro and I had a chat about the fashion industry and our different takes on it all. My interview with her went a little something like this…
How did the Afara brand start?
My graduate collection was called Afara and I decided well, I haven’t secured any work why don’t I create custom designs? I did a bit of research about what it takes to start a business, if you don’t have the capital then you should make it service-based. It’s a slow progress but it’s been worth it. From there I started getting orders, mainly for Matric Farewell dresses but it’s helped me through the process of one-on-one designing to understand what people are looking for and use word of mouth as my advertising.
In terms of garment construction, are you completely hands-on?
Yes, I currently do everything myself but I am looking to source a good CMT in the near future. Working from home means balancing personal life and work – you end up working longer hours than you would in a normal working environment.People think that because you have your own set of hours it’s simpler but I work full-time all the time. I also like to set time aside to learn new things, through YouTube and other online platforms to be able to improve as I move forward.
And what is your main goal with Afara?
Ultimately my main goal is to start designing my own ranges and have my own online store. Which is why I’m starting with markets now, I see it as a form of market research where I get to see who buys my products. As a creative, I do have an understanding of commercial viability.
Changing the conversation up a bit, who are your fashion icons?
Business wise I would have to say David Tlatle, when he spoke to us at the CTFC Graduation Recruitment Showcase I was really blown away and agreed with most of his points. In terms of international, it’s actually a small business called Kloset Envy and it was started by Jai Nice and I find her very inspirational. She’s 27 now and she wrote her business plan when she was 18 and I think it’s great to have role models who have started from nothing and have worked their way up.
What do you deem as the best method to stay current?
I’d have to say Instagram. I’m seeing social media in a different way, it becomes a part of your portfolio/CV. I know some people feel that you have to put up a front on Instagram like your life is always beautiful but actually you simply want to show the best of your work and the best version of yourself.
Would you ever consider starting your own blog or Youtube Channel?
I don’t think I could do it myself but I did want to start a blog with someone and then I realised we were clashing a lot. A blog requires a lot of input and while I would rather want to start a blog with someone I know that it can’t be just anyone.
Having been a fashion student, do you feel your mindset has changed from your first year up until now?
It’s definitely changed a lot, I think your eyes open when you’re done studying. We were encouraged to be very creative, but we didn’t get to focus on the business side of fashion or actually the role of the South African fashion economy. I didn’t really get time to reflect on who I want to be but this year I’ve discovered that too many people are worried about who they want to be rather than wanting to empower the economy. I do think that several South African companies underestimate their consumers.
What would you say is the most challenging part about doing custom designs?
The hardest part was not having prior experience working with customers. However when I was a student I was in need of extra money because of being a fashion student, I started telling people in my complex that I do alterations. I would give out flyers and I even put some up and different campuses like UCT and so while I was studying I would get contacted by people to do alterations which helped me gain some experience.
What is the epitome of Afara?
I want it to appeal to fierce females and I don’t want it to be overpriced. I want to ensure that things are made ethically but not expensively .
What is the most special piece you’ve made for someone?
It would have to be my sisters Matric Farewell dress because she trusted me to do make it. Funnily enough the strap broke on the night and I had to hand sew it into place but at the time I was studying and busy with my graduate collection so I couldn’t do it perfectly but she loved it.
If you had your brand selling in retail store which would it be?
I would love sell it in Legit as I love it when they do collaborations with local designers. For me the most important aspect would be price point because I feel everyone deserves a little bit of luxury.
Who is a local designer that you would love to collaborate with?
It would have to be KISUA, I would love to be featured as a brand under KISUA. I do definitely feel that I need to develop more before I even try that.
What has been your biggest shock about the fashion industry?
I often find that people don’t always treat you with respect in the way that everyone deserves to be treated.
So there are three chokers?
Yes, there is Ruff Rider, Baby Girl and Rebel Beauty.
These chokers, what was the inspiration behind them?
I just realised there is a gap in the market – you don’t struggle to see trendy items in the market but they aren’t made to do anything to boost the African economy. It lead me to the thought that I know where I can get off cuts of leather, knowing how much I love the choker trend. So I’ve been using denim and leather off cuts, it’s an affordable and a great way to complete a look or update your whole wardrobe really.
And will you stop at chokers or extend to other forms of jewellery?
Well I do want to focus on clothing but I thought that chokers would be a small and fun way to try out something new.
Lastly, what is advice you could give to someone looking to get into the industry?
Always learn, do a lot of research and just start.
And there you have it, below are the links to the Brownsense Market, be sure not to miss it! It’s this Sunday, the 6th of November starting at 11:00, all further details will be provided through the links.
Be sure to share your thoughts and comments with me!
Thanks, VB xx