CAPE TOWN - Pinkie Luswazi, founder of Lus-pin Manufacturers, a fashion design business based in Mandalay, Cape Town, has turned her passion for design from a young age into a prosperous business despite the high risks inherent in operating in the small, medium and micro-enterprises(SMMEs) environment in townships.
Luswazi was last month named the top achiever at the Small Business Academy (SBA) development programme run by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).
Luswazi started her business in the Eastern Cape about 15 years ago and produces original lively street-style and formal wear, as well as décor items with a twist of Africa in the fabric and design.
Luswazi said she started the business out of passion when she was a Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Transkei (Unitra), now Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in the Eastern Cape. She later moved to KwaZulu-Natal in pursuit of her dream of becoming a clothing designer and enrolled at the Durban Institute for Clothing Design. She was headhunted in her final year to be one of the designers to design for ladies’ and children’s wear at KwaZulu-Natal’s leading clothing company, Kingsgate.
“When I started to work in Durban, I didn’t really have clients there and I realised that most of my clients came from the Eastern Cape. People would drive for five hours to Durban just to collect their items,” said Luswazi. “However, by then I was not really focusing much on doing business because I was still employed and very serious about actually acquiring more skills on what I have learned during my studies.”
She said she started looking for a place she could use as business premises before formally establishing the business in Mthatha after she was forced to leave Durban and move back home in the Eastern Cape because of her mother’s failing health.