CAPE TOWN - Cape Town businesswoman Pinkie Luswazi has been named the best student of the University of Stellenbosch Business School’s Small Business Academy (SBA) development programme.
The programme is aimed at empowering small business owners with business knowledge, networking opportunities and mentorship and major funders are the Distell Foundation and Absa. Luswazi, 53, scored highest after turning a long time passion into a thriving business in Mandalay Cape Town.
Her company, Luspin Production designs and produces street-style and formalwear as well as décor items. According to Luswazi, empowering is the answer in uplifting the community. She also run training programmes for single unemployed mothers to establish pattern-making, sewing and designing skills. The programme then provides Luspin Production with skilled staff.
"It is such a proud moment when I see employees or trainees whom I have tutored over the years, progress. Some are even currently running their own businesses. To become part of the solution in terms of unemployment, even at a small scale, is key in creating change and brings me immense pleasure."
Luswazi says the SBA programme helped to turn her own business around and to understand the intricacies of the business world
"I have come to really understand the business side of things, simply having passion and talent is not enough to run a successful enterprise. I now have an effective marketing strategy, utilise social media, manage my finances with integrity and invest my finances with credible institutions."
Luswazi, who grew up in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, says she started designing at the age of 13. She says she also stitched sleepwear for her sibling during school holidays and sold sweets at school to generate an income to buy fabric. But it was during her studies towards a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Transkei that she was encouraged to pursue her dream of becoming a clothing designer. She decided to enrol at the Durban Institute for Clothing Design. She says she was headhunted in her final year to be one of the designers to design ladies and children's wear at KwaZulu Natal's leading clothing company, Kingsgate. She decided to start her own business after five years, and in 1997, with two machines gifted by her mother when she was still a teenager, she started Luspin Production in Mthatha where she created dazzling wedding and ball gowns, traditional and easy to wear apparel.
Luswazi relocated her business to Cape Town in July last year and her clientele is growing extensively. She says she has now secured premises in Khayelitsha which which will see her outsourcing some of her work to improve the quality of her designs. She describes this as a logical step as she has seen different aspects of starting a business such as lack of financial resources. But the focus on her goals has seen her through. “I try to focus on my goal of running a fully-fledged design and production company and all my efforts and thoughts are geared to making it succeed," she says.
She is currently focusing on an exclusive denim range and showcased her clothes at the Xperience Fashion show at Kenilworth Race Course and sells her decor and clothing at a social market in Claremont. Luswazi says she intimately knows the work "persevere" and believes that although struggling is a barrier to achieving one's dream, passion is the driving force that will allow one to succeed.
"Believing in yourself and discovering your unique offering will give you the edge no matter which industry you pursue. And I actively encourage people and small businesses to see their responsibility in creating a solution to the current poverty and unemployment rate. Give back, whether it is of your time or money, and see how your achievements become those of many."
- BUSINESS REPORT