Zizipho Mgxothwa is a 25 year old fashion designer, founder and owner of Zii Apparel. She was born in the Eastern Cape until she moved to Bloemfontein with her sister when she was 8 years old. Zizipho attended Kruitberg Primary School and later went to Louis Botha High School.

She describes her childhood as the most exciting phase in her life because “I was still trying to discover who I was” she says. Zizipho has always been creative and loved creating things with her hands from a young age.

Growing up, when other children played with dolls, she would make her own dolls as her mother did not buy them any and she says in hindsight, that helped her a lot. She would draw pictures and cut them out and dress them up.  She would recreate her childhood experiences by creating puppets. “In primary school I would go to school by bus and whatever would happen in the bus, I would recreate.” she adds. She would literally create a bus, with chairs, school kids and a bus conductor using boxes.

Zizipho would also create shoes for her childhood friends making use of boxes. She once took her mother’s old bag and made a new one out of it, “I always knew I was creative”. Zizipho would also write books and draw pictures. One of the most memorable things about her childhood was when her primary school teachers took her A2 drawing and used it for decoration purposes at the Bloem Show.

Zizipho attended a technical high school and she says “I really struggled in high school and I actually forgot about my creative side because now I was stressed with high school and wanting to pass mathematics. I wasn’t an academic but I was a hard worker.” In her matric year, she considered a career in architecture or civil engineering as she was good at technical drawing, although she didn’t have a passion for any of them. She then told her mother that she wants to study fashion, but was worried because she did technical subjects. However, she applied and got accepted at the Central University of Technology to study Fashion.

The first time she used a sewing machine was in her first year. “I didn’t know that I loved fashion until I started making clothes and that is where the passion came from.” She started her studies in 2013 and started loving fashion when she learned how to use a sewing machine. She graduated in 2016.

Asked what inspires her to create she replied “it is literally anything and everything, it could be anything on a magazine and I would recreate it in my own way”.

Asked about her aspirations regarding her brand she answered “one of my goals is to make it to SA Fashion Week before the end of the year” she would also like to showcase her work at Afi Fashion Week.

She would also love her brand to make it to YDE because she desires to go into retail and would love to have her own stores nationally and internationally. She wants to employ young women of different races as she wants her brand to stand for equality and wants every person in world to relate with the brand. “I want to build an empire led by a black woman but employs women from different backgrounds and culture”.

Zizipho will be showcasing her work at a fashion event called “Fashion Without Boarders”, for designers around Africa. It will be the first time she launches her Spring/Summer’19 collection. Her work will be on the runway for the first time.

Stay shining Zizipho!