‘I am a lifelong learner and that is what helps keep me inspired.’
Sumaiya completed her law degree with seven distinctions and specialised in intellectual property law. After several years of this, her love for fashion led her to more fashion-focused roles in trend forecasting, fashion designing, styling and editing. While working at Cape Town Fashion Council, she noticed that many designers needed legal assistance, and so she combined her two passions to specialise in fashion law, which covers issues relating to the business of fashion, from conception of products to brand protection. Today, SA Fashion Law is the leading fashion law specialist in South Africa. Visit Safashionlaw.co.za.
On lessons learned:
I have learned the art of resilience. Things do go wrong in business and in life; failure happens but one has to keep moving onward and upward.
On the initial challenges:
It was a challenge setting up a business that was unheard of in South Africa, and I overcame this challenge by sharing information through talks at events and conferences, through networking with people in the industry, and focusing on a PR strategy so that people became more widely aware of the importance of fashion law in South Africa. There are also financial challenges. My solution was to engage in trade exchanges, finding partners who I could add value to with my skills in return for specific services, such as PR and marketing. Trade exchanges can be a valuable way to make headway when setting up a business.
On her achievements so far:
One of my greatest achievements was presenting the first fashion law lecture in South Africa to FEDISA’s (fashion institute based in Cape Town) BA fashion degree honours students. Another was sharing the stage with top South African leaders in government and the industry at the Africa Fashion Exchange last month, discussing fashion law with regards to tertiary education in South Africa.
On what women entrepreneurs need more of:
Female entrepreneurs need to help each other succeed, and this is the shift that is currently taking place – if more emphasis is placed on this, we can grow together substantially faster.
On being inspired:
The best advice I received in my own journey is to never stop learning. Never stop enriching your mind with books, culture, anything that feeds your soul. I am a lifelong learner and that is what helps keep me inspired.