How MaXhosa successfully uses Facebook and Instagram to gain a global audience
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Laduma Ngxokolo is passionate about being a global brand that is proudly African. The most important thing to the MaXhosa Africa founder, however, is that even with the global success, the brand is celebrated, worn and loved at home.
In an IG Live discussion with Facebook Africa's Regional Director, Nunu Ntshingila, the award-winning designer, revealed just how important it is for his brand to be celebrated at home.
"The greatest highlight of my career was to be embraced at home. I can go everywhere and get complimented for our designs, but if I wasn't appreciated here at home and people were not voting with their money, I wouldn't sleep well at night because at the end of the day we are here to protect our own dreams," he said.
Ngxokolo is one of the creatives chosen to be part of Facebook Africa's global 'Made in Africa, Loved by the World' campaign.
It features a series of short films that unveil the stories of eight phenomenal creatives and small business owners from across the continent who are breaking ground across the world.
Available to view on a dedicated ‘Made by Africa, Loved by the World’ micro-site and the official Facebook Africa page from 21st May 2021, the films provide a glimpse into the global successes of African creatives and businesses hailing from Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon.
As part of the ‘Made by Africa, Loved by the World’ campaign, Facebook created dedicated ‘Africa Day’ Facebook profile frames available to Facebook users and holding free virtual training for SMBs and Creators across Africa through its local training partners, hereby providing other upcoming creatives and entrepreneurs with the digital know-how to take their ideas global.
These training sessions focused on creativity including how to creatively engage with your audience through Instagram; Reels school, Interactivity in stories and how to get creative with ads.
In a statement, Nunu Ntshingila said: “At Facebook, we’re deeply invested in the creative industry in Africa, and nowhere is it more exciting to witness this vibrant creative scene than here on the continent. These people and businesses are changing the way Africa is seen, not just in Africa, but around the world, and are cementing our position as leaders in innovation and the creative industries.
“We know that Africa is the future, and in honour of ‘Africa Day’ and the Africa Union’s 2021 celebration of African ‘Arts Culture And Heritage’, ‘Made by Africa, Loved by the World’ is our way of recognising just some of these remarkable individuals who continue to inspire the world.”
Ngxokolo fits that profile to a tee and has also successfully used Facebook and Instagram's retail services for MaXhosa, where their clientele can use both platforms to purchase their products.
" The feedback and comments (have been great) but not only just that. People pick up and checkout and pay for the garments. It's the most overwhelming nod (of approval) for us. Seeing people overseas wear our garment has given us a feeling of fulfilment."
He has had various successes, including MaXhosa being worn by global names such as Beyoncé and Alicia Keys, and most recently had his designs featured in the film Coming to America 2.
Being asked by Ruth E. Carter to provide garments for the film is still a moment that hasn't sunk in for the designer.
"It took years for it to sink in that trendy people are wearing MaXhosa pieces. A clientele that doesn't report that they are wearing the garments. It is still sinking in that Eddie Murphy and our own Nomzamo were draped in MaXhosa garments in the film."
But one item is still the first thing many thinks of when they talk about the brand- the black and white scarf.
The scarf won the Most Beautiful Object award at the Design Indaba in 2016. Ngxokolo was living in London at the time and he realised that black and white was the dominant colour scheme in most Xhosa tribes.
"Even though our brand is known for colour, we have a huge clientele of people who only appreciate black and white pieces. Our shawl became our first successful product and still is to this day. When I designed that piece, I was staying in London and when you are looking at your culture from the outside in, you get to see it from a different perspective.
“I realised that most of our regalia is based on a rectangular shape that we wrap around the waist, bust, head and over the shoulder. I told myself that if you allow them the freedom to interpret that piece in more than a thousand ways. I also wanted it to be reversible. On one side it's black and white and on the other, it's predominantly white and black."
He also used Facebook and Instagram in the campaign for the competition, roping in his friends Asanda Sizani and Trevor Stuurman to help create content on both social media platforms. This led to the scarf winning the Most Beautiful Object and it becoming a bestseller.
It was after that competition and winning it, that he realised that MaXhosa goes beyond being just a luxury brand, but is there to bring a solution to a problem that people didn't know they have.
"I am in the solutions business, more than design and beauty. With us Africans, we have our own problems and our own market gaps. What will solve these problems is our ideas and solutions. After five years I realised that MaXhosa is in the solutions business and when we launch a new product, we must solve a problem."
At the core of the brand, is that MaXhosa is proving that African culture can be good enough on a global stage. "That Black culture can compete with the standards that have been set and have existed for hundreds of years. We have always been of a high standard and that is the philosophy of our brand. That Black child it is possible to stand next to a Louis Vuitton or a Gucci and look them in the eye and be afraid."