Wife, mother, fashion mogul…Ndiweni balances creativity with family Designer Sandisile Ndiweni

Ashley Phiri, [email protected]

SANDISILE Ndiweni, a fashion designer with a passion for innovative creations and steadfast resolve, is on a mission to transform Bulawayo’s fashion landscape. Born in May 1985 in a household of 14, Ndiweni’s journey stands as a testimony to diligent effort and tenacity. She has overcome life’s hurdles with poise, blossoming into an entrepreneurial icon.

Designer Sandisile Ndiweni

Ndiweni credits her fervour for fashion to her late father, whom she venerates as a style connoisseur in his own right.
“Growing up we didn’t have much, but my late father always made it a point that he looked sharp. A white shirt was supposed to remain white and all our clothes were expected to be well-ironed and neat all the time. That in itself made me have an appreciation of clothes and from the time I was little I made it a point that I make my clothes as stylish as possible,” she said.

Ndiweni, however, did not venture into the fashion industry full-time until 2019. Before that, she worked as a hairdresser for 17 years and sold second-hand clothes from the boot of her car as a side hustle.

“I worked as a hairdresser for 17 years and sold second-hand clothes on the side. My second-hand clothes were in high demand because I would not buy an entire bale of clothes that I did not know its content, but would personally hand-pick the clothes myself and that set me apart from others in the same trade. I always got comments that the way I dress did not match my job so finally in 2019 I quit hairdressing and focused on fashion designing full time,” she recalled.

“Chenamiso Designs,” a label that embodies the essence of wonder in the Kalanga language, is the name of her brand and Ndiweni explains that the name describes her designs perfectly. She says her designs are a wonder to behold, reflecting the versatility of humanity.

Ndiweni sees the Zimbabwean fashion scene making significant progress towards international standards. She’s impressed by how people are taking fashion events seriously, using them as platforms to showcase creativity through their attire.
She acknowledges the hurdles she faced while establishing her business.

Financing was an initial obstacle, but a bigger challenge emerged, running a business without proper business management skills. She emphasises the importance of acquiring business administration skills or partnering with someone who possesses them. This frees the creative mind to focus on design.

Ndiweni isn’t limited to high fashion. She’s ventured into ready-made clothing, supplying major retailers like Edgars, Jet, and Power Sales Zimbabwe. While this presented challenges — limited creative freedom and the persisting lack of business administration expertise — she valued the opportunity, especially considering she was a relatively new player in the industry at the time.

She exemplifies the strength and resourcefulness of women; successfully managing a thriving fashion label alongside her responsibilities as a wife and mother of five. She credits her supportive husband, Courage Ncube, for his understanding and encouragement as she juggles these multiple commitments.

 

“My husband loves and understands fashion as well so he has been very supportive. We even work together at the factory sometimes. It’s not easy balancing all the multiple roles that I have as a person, but he has been supportive of my vision and for that I am grateful.”

Beyond its design work, Chenamiso Designs also functions as a hub for aspiring fashion designers. It provides a valuable space for those with theoretical knowledge to develop their practical skills and unleash their creativity. The company’s staff size fluctuates depending on the season, with a core team of 10 employees that can double during peak periods.

 

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