At the back of Mandisa Zwane’s typical yellow plaster-clad Soweto house is a bustling hive of activity set to a soundtrack of gospel music and crying babies that emanates from nearby. Every day the 42-year-old fashion designer packs into her small improvised workshop surrounded by sewing machines and brightly coloured spools of thread. When she began making her distinctively bold and bright African print garments in SA’s most famous township in 2009, she made just three every month. "Before I was just making for friends and family — and they weren’t even paying! Then I was able to hire four people to grow," she said. Zwane is one of dozens of township entrepreneurs whose creations have sold worldwide with help from Soweto’s Box Shop, a not-for-profit organisation helping local designers and craftspeople market their creations internationally. She now sells her designs as far away as Atlanta and London, making up to 60 pieces every month supported by her four-strong team which includ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now