Tell us about yourself and brand?
My name is Sibu Mabena, and my brand name is Sibu Msimang Designs. I have been in the business for about 10 years now.
When did you first fall in love with fashion?
My grandmother was very stylish which influenced my decision to be in fashion industry. I looked up to her a lot and wanted to dress up like her. When she passed away, I inherited a lot of dresses from her closet which I have modernized my own way.
Did you study something related to fashion or you just followed your passion?
Yes, I studied a diploma in Fashion Design at Durban University of Technology for 3 years.
How has it been running your own company?
It was not easy at all starting my business, there were so many ups and downs, but we are still standing today and very proud of where we come from as a brand. As a creative person, you always have to come up with news ways of improving your brand.
What inspired your designs?
My collections are very flexible. I cater for all kinds of women. I want my customers to be able to go to work wearing a dress and be able to take off a cardigan and add a neck piece and big earing and be able to attend dinner with the same dress.
Have you dressed any high profile clientele?
Yes, I’ve had a chance to dress a couple of celebrities through DFF.
How has DFF helped to grow your brand and business?
DFF has exposed my brand to many opportunities. The highlight was in 2014 when I got a change to do an order for Spree.co.za. The buyers attended DFF shows and scouted talent during the event, that’s how I got to work with Spree.
Tell us about the experience with Spree.
This was my first big order. I have never done such a big order. It was a great challenge in terms of man power and amount of fabric. I supplied for one season and worked really hard under a lot of pressure, it was a great experience I know I could do better next time. I was very proud when my collection was sold out.
Do you do accessories?
Yes I have partnered with 2 ladies, our merchandise includes earrings, neck pieces, hats etc. We sell our items at I Heart Market in Durban.
Where do you see your brand in 5 years?
I want to have my own shop that will provide ready to wear clothing and accessories. The idea is to buy a house and each room will be a different look and feel from clothing to shoes. More like a 1 stop shop.
What are your plans for 2016?
I am planning to supply boutiques in Johannesburg. I am busy working on the with regards to production and man power to cater for the demand.
Are you ready for SAFW?
Not yet, I am still working on my production plan. I want my collections to be ready for retail after showcasing. I don’t want them to wait and loose interest. Once my supply demand plan has been successfully implemented, I can partake in different fashion weeks. I am also working on my website which will be live soon, I have added an online shop tab.
What is your advice for DFF Interns?
This is a great platform and they need to grab this opportunity with both hands. They need to be ready to work and learn a lot of new things. You grow and become a better business person. You are exposed to so many opportunities and learn new skills that will grow your business.
You were also an intern, what was the experience like and how did it help your brand?
I have grown as an entrepreneur, my brand has grown as well. I used to work from home, until I went to Italy, I realized that I needed to take myself out there so that I can be exposed to consumers. It was the best decision I have made because I have gained about 50 more customers from just moving from working at home to my current studio.