‘The best way to predict the future is to create it. Don’t be afraid of the size of your dreams. They can never be too big, nor can your imagination ever be too wild.’
Ayanda studied dramatic arts at high school at the National School of the Arts in Jo’burg. She moved on to study media at Boston Media House, and later fashion design at the Design School of Southern Africa. While on a gap year, she ventured into trading vintage clothing, accessories and music records at a pop-up market in Braamfontein. Before she knew it, she was completely in love with fashion and business, so she started customising the vintage clothes that she was trading and eventually started designing her own pieces. She won the third season of SABC3’s Young Designers, and is currently the host of Ayanda: Inside Fashion, on DSTV, which educates viewers about the fashion industry. As a brand ambassador for Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque, she launched a collection titled ‘Born in the Wild, Raised in the City’. The collection is inspired by royal Zulu traditional wear, with a focus on the black-and-white traditional Zulu sandals made out of tyres. As if she weren’t busy enough, she’s working on an Aids-awareness campaign, to launch in December. Follow: @_ayandanhlapo on Instagram.
On initial concerns:
My major concerns were finances and all the other resources I needed. However, this is an obstacle I’m in the process of overcoming. I’ve been feeding my fashion business with money earned from my film and TV gigs, which has helped me a lot. It took me a while to eventually make profits from my business, and it is still escalating steadily. However, the bright side is that the progress has been wonderful and I’m grateful for that.
On daily achievements:
My life is made up of many small achievements that happen daily. When I get up, dress up and show up, I consider it an achievement. Ticking an errand off my to-do list is also an achievement. Making someone smile is an achievement. Using today to be a better Ayanda than the one I was yesterday is an achievement.
On being a black woman in the industry:
I’m a feminist that is conscious and active about our struggle as women, and I form part of the racism struggle as well because I’m not just a female, I am a black female living in South Africa, which puts me in a position for double oppression. That being said, I believe that women are more liberated and recognised today. As women, we now have opportunities that empower us. More doors are open and we also have government organisations that help aid us and protect us. I’m definitely seeing more female CEOs, leaders and breadwinners. Women today have a voice. We have the power!
On the misconceptions of entrepreneurship:
People think entrepreneurship is the easiest way to get rich or that one great idea is all it takes to be successful. The reality is that it is not easy to build a successful business. You first need to have a brilliant idea, an exceptional plan of execution and a great team. Building and running a business takes a team of dedicated members that can contribute and cover different spheres of the business – investments, equipment, research, conceptualising, planning, strategising, production, admin, marketing, advertising, auditing, stock-taking, supplying, sales and everything else it takes to build an empire. Another misconception is that once you get funding, you can cruise. You can never take a back seat. The business needs to consistently be growing.
On being inspired:
One of the most inspiring things I’ve ever been told, which I also keep hearing, is that I’m an inspiration. That, in itself, is my inspiration to keep going and going.