How this SA fashion entrepreneur built one of the leading brands with just $3

Abu Mubarik February 01, 2021
Silungile Mokoena, founder of Sluvin Designs (South Africa). Photo credit: lionessofafrica

Silungile Mokoena is a fashion entrepreneur from South Africa. She founded Sluvin Designs, a fashion house based in the city of Durban, South Africa. Her company makes fashion garments, fashion accessories and beaded jewelry for both men and women but her team is dominated by female employees.

Silungile path to becoming a fashion entrepreneur was not by chance. One can safely conclude that it was a skill she picked from her mother, who is also a fashion entrepreneur. Growing up, Silungile watched her mom sew and sometimes borrowed her machine to make dresses for her dolls because she loved to create something extraordinary.

Although Silungile worked in different industry sectors later in life, she did not really find fulfilment in any of them and so she decided to pursue her fashion passion and since then, she has not looked back. She started her venture with only $3 that she used to buy materials and borrowed a friend’s machine to sew.

Her first stock from her $3 seed capital was 13 kiddies tracksuits that she sold for less than $1, which yielded a profit of $8, she told the She reinvested her profit into buying more fabric and by the end of the first month in business, she managed to buy her own domestic sewing machine.

Three months later, she managed to buy her first industrial sewing machine and continued to reinvest until she owned 7 industrial machines and an 8inch cutting machine. However, her business came to a standstill due to cheap imports. Instead of throwing her money down the drain, she decided to enrol in a fashion school, graduating with a Diploma in Fashion Designing after three years.

In her final year, Silungile had the opportunity to exhibit her designs in Germany and sold out. “That opened my eyes to realizing that there are more opportunities outside our comfort zones,” she said. “So, upon finishing my studies I started my own brand, pursued international and local markets making sure that I dressed up in my own designer wear being my own brand ambassador.”

Today, her firm employs six full-time employers and up to 10 part-time employees. Also, her firm has outsourced the company’s accessory production to more than 15 women who specialize in beadwork and work from the comfort of their homes mainly in rural areas.

The experience she gained while in Germany contributed to her business growth as many people got to know she is a fashion designer. Silungile now has customers in Germany, Portugal, Italy, UK, Zimbabwe, Seychelles and, of course, locally in South Africa.

Client satisfaction is the hallmark of Silungile’s business. “We believe that every person has a role in delivering best service and making sure that our clients are satisfied with the end products of their order,” she says.

Silungile is working to make her brand attain both local and international appeal. She also plans to own a Fashion Academy that will be customized to offer what learners need to make their businesses/brands succeed in the fashion industry.

For upcoming entrepreneurs, Silungile said they should not be solely motivated by money. She also charges them to be honest with themselves and also know their strengths and weaknesses.

“Don’t blame the next person for your failures, the buck starts and stops with you as an entrepreneur. Never wait for millions and billions of cash to start your business, start with the little you have, reinvest and grow. Take care of yourself both emotionally and physically, it’s the key to our growth. Lastly treasure and be yourself because everyone else is taken, so don’t try to be someone else,” she added.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 1, 2021


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