Patience Ndakane, who started fashion company Mamello Collections in 2016, says it has been a fulfilling journey.
Inspired by African prints and colours, her company makes handmade bags, handbags and sandals, which all stand out in their lively colours.
“As a lover of African prints and colours, I am inspired by them to make the products we are making,” she told Vutivi News.
Ndakane, who was born and bred in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni, said she started out designing accessories. She then progressed to designing bags and later, sandals. And just recently, she started making sneakers.
“We’ve had people who would want to buy our shoes but do not like sandals, even though they like our brand and the quality of our shoes. Some suggested that we venture into sneakers, so that is something we have recently embarked on,” she said.
“We use a combination of upholstery, African print and leather, so it’s a combination of three different textures.”
Ndakane said that she has been able to overcome the challenges of having her own business, because she believed in the quality and authenticity of her brand.
“People normally don’t believe that I am the founder of Mamello Collections. They would expect the businesses to be owned by a man. There is a certain bias in the industry because people still do not regard women as businesspeople, preferring to speak to a man instead of a woman in the business,” she said.
“I assure them that I will be able to assist them with the help of my husband. My husband, who is a partner in the business, helps me by directing them to me, and this assures them that I am capable of handling business matters as a woman.”
Her company, unlike many others, has performed well under the lockdown.
“Before COVID-19, business was doing okay. I used to sell in local and international markets and exhibitions, but when Covid-19 struck, we started doing exceptionally well. We (had) more sales during the… lockdown period than before,” she said.
Ndakane said this was because people were initially confined to the homes, so when restrictions were eased, they went on a buying spree.
“People were always on social media, so we used social media platforms to advertise our products. This in turn led to being exposed to a broader audience than before,” she also said.
Her company sells via products via courier and delivery options. Buyers can also visit the company’s warehouse in Katlehong.
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