We love inspiring stories from amazing people across the globe who are doing great things. This week’s feature focuses on Anissa Mpungwe. Anissa Mpungwe is the Founder and Designer at South African fashion label Loin Cloth and Ashes.
Who is Anissa Mpungwe?
I’m quite a reserved person. I’m not always around people I don’t know. Most of the time I’m with friends and family – I’m pretty relaxed. I like traveling and knowing things so if I’m taking a break you’ll probably find me in some country somewhere – at a museum.
What is Loin Cloth and Ashes?
When I started the brand, I really just wanted to put an African voice on the map and see how people would react to it. In the beginning it was kind of project that I was doing. It was personal in the beginning and after a while it started becoming serious. It then evolved to a black voice making the business work for me and inspiring others.
What made you start Loin Cloth and Ashes?
If you’re starting a business you have to label it. It needs to have a name, it needs to have a platform. Loin Cloth and Ashes kind of followed the same traditional route and as time went on I wanted people to automatically be able to associate the product with a brand. If someone said “what skirt is that?” their reply would be, “it’s Loin Cloth and Ashes.”
How did you know this was what you wanted to do for sure?
I’ve always been a creative. I always knew. In my family we come from a relatively political background but I knew that it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t a question of – am I doing the right thing? It was more like – gosh, there’s so much to do I don’t know where to start!
What, if any, setbacks did you experience when you started and what did you do to improve?
The setbacks were the typical not being prepared, getting into the business without really knowing the nature of business. At the time, I wasn’t very clued up on the function of business, a business plan, kinds of fabric needs or handling money. It was a problem when fabric is just sitting there or stuff hasn’t moved within like 2 weeks!
Have a good working team. There must always be a level of sensitivity when you work with a team and this is definitely not a lone kind of project. You always have to have people around. You can’t do everything. You can’t have designs, do patterns, do cuts [and] sew yourself. You need to have a team. It was realizing that and finding the right people.
What advice do you have for people who are looking to start a business but have a fear of launching?
You have [to] experience how it is to run a business – through somebody else’s eyes, especially this type of business. It requires a lot of money. And not like play-play money, like serious money! It’s not child’s play at all. To own your own business means you’re also going to take care of other people. Meaning you’re going to have to pay other people. You can’t kind of say today, “I’ll pay you tomorrow.” People need to know that they can trust you, that throughout the year you can get the job done.
So, I think the best advice I can give to anyone who would like to start a business – whether from scratch, coming straight from school or changing careers and wanting the fashion thing is to first go under somebody’s shadow. Shadow somebody to really see the challenges that they go through because it’s really not as glamorous as one would think.
Where can people find you?
At the end of last year we closed our Maboneng store simply because our biggest clientele is European or at least from outside of South Africa. I really wanted to focus within South Africa and on Africa and we’ve completely re-strategized.
We’ll be launching on zando.co.za in the first week of February.
Our own store, ShopLCA.com will launch in April.
FB: Loin Cloth and Ashes by Anissa Mpungwe
Written By: Zuleka Pukwana, Staff Writer, #mygirlsquad