With a passion for fashion and a flair for design, Zim born designer, Sinikiwe Moyo is on the rise and making her mark in an industry that is constantly evolving.
As the founder and creative director of premium brand, Niki Moyo, she initially showed a keen interest in fashion and design at a young age and spent time helping her late mother create new outfits for her dolls. Moyo says her mother continues to be her driving force and described her as a lover and supporter of the regional arts and crafts movement in Zimbabwe.
Creating stylish new clothes and outlandish patterns are part of what make Niki’s collections unique and define her understanding of the use of a variety of fabrics. Her designs are heavily influenced by African culture, where she fuses both Western and African patterns.
As a teenager, making her own clothes was her favourite thing to do. As a result, her work was recognised by industry experts and helped her secure an internship with leading clothing line, Edgars in Zimbabwe. Soon after her internship, she was offered a permanent role with the retailer, initially as a fashion designer, then as a Product Coordinator.
Zim Abroad caught up with Niki, to discuss her journey and what is next.
ZA: Walk us through your journey, where you grew up in Zimbabwe and what have those experiences taught you today?
SM: I grew up in Entumbane in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. The community had a wealth of arts and crafts, which encouraged and empowered so many creatives, who have gone on to make a name for themselves. This, in some ways, signified and helped me embrace and celebrate my culture through creativity.
ZA: What would you say makes Bulawayo stand out?
SM: Bulawayo was always vibrant and had amazing craftsmen who contributed to the city’s unique beauty. For some, the arts became second nature, part of daily life and many became self-sufficient from it. The memories of the City of Kings, sometimes bring tears of joy and sadness but, most of all, it gives me the strength, determination and connection to my late mums love. It is a reminder to keep working hard to fulfil my dreams and make her proud despite her not being around.
ZA: What is one of your fondest memories of your mum?
SM: It’s probably the day we attempted to make an outfit for one of my dolls. Fast-forward to the present day, I’ve become a fashion designer, showcasing globally on some of the most prestigious
catwalks in the world. She introduced me to fashion design and I am so grateful to her for that. She was a great teacher and I cherish her unconditional love for me and would encourage everyone out there to appreciate their parents because their love and wisdom are an eternal investment.
ZA: Was there anything else you wanted to pursue other than fashion?
SM: Having been raised in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, we used to sing a lot at home as family and this encouraged me to sing in the church choir. Music became food to my soul and developed a love for music and wanted to pursue music and become a singer
ZA: What were some of the challenges you faced moving to the UK and what kept you going?
SM: Due to the political and economic climate at the time, I made a decision to leave Zimbabwe and pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer in England. Despite missing home and my job at Edgars, I knew it was for the best. Although I didn’t get any jobs in the retail sector immediately, I kept focused, went on to study Fashion Design with Business and got a first class degree.
ZA: You’ve started your own company, Niki Moyo. What are some of the key highlights and lessons you have learned that have contributed to where you are now as a designer?
SM: Through winning the Fashion4Africa Designer of the Year 2017 competition, I had the privilege of showcasing my AW18 collection at Fashion’s Finest UK, during London Fashion Week in February 2018. In addition to this, I received a year’s support and mentorship from the Fashion4Africa organisers and other industry experts. I have learnt that staying true to myself and my art is important in the fashion industry and always being willing to learn new things.
ZA: What keeps you a step ahead of the game in an industry that demands so much?
SM: Being original and understanding my brand, vision and the desire to fulfil my dream of being a fashion designer with a purpose. I am aware of how fashion is dictated by society and its ever changing trends. I believe the rules in fashion have faded and I’ve concluded that my creativity is not trend driven. I may incorporate trends in my designs but they have to tell a unique story, which sets me apart from the rest. I offer premium, high quality designs, that help boost women’s confidence and that complement both their bodies and unique personalities. This is because I believe every woman deserves to be happy and confident in themselves and there is no better way to showcase this than in what you wear.
ZA: Who would you most like to dress or design something for?
SM: The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. I admire how her style mirrors her personality. As a designer, it is important that I dress a woman according to her true nature. In other words, as a woman, you are what you wear. A dress defines the true nature of a woman. Hence, one of my favourite designers summed it up nicely: “Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.” Coco Chanel.
ZA: What are some of your key highlights to date in the industry?
SM: I was appointed Fashion4Africa Ambassador this year. I also won several awards, including the Zimbabwe Achievers Award for Fashion Designer of the Year. Additionally, showcasing my AW18 collection during London Fashion Week are just some of the things I am most proud of.
ZA: What advice would you give to Africa’s next generation of designers?
SM: My advice to upcoming fashion designers is to be true to themselves in an industry that is full of talented designers. The fashion industry is very competitive and doesn’t always give everyone an opportunity but, the key things are, be determined, take initiative and never give up. The best investment you make in yourself, is to continue to learn and equip yourself with knowledge and skills
ZA: Do you have any investments in Zimbabwe and what are your long-term plans for them?
SM: As they say, home is where the heart is. I have invested in property, which I see as a legacy that can be passed down to the generations after me.
ZA: What is your message to Zimbabweans in the diaspora who are looking to invest in Zimbabwe?
SM: I believe there is hope in Zimbabwe especially as we try to rebuild a new Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has got so much to offer and amazing talent as well, regardless of challenges and the lack of resources. Having grown up in Zimbabwe and understanding the challenges and setbacks I went through personally, on my journey to pursuing a career in fashion, my hope for those in the diaspora, is to invest in uplifting and empowering the next generation, who may be disadvantaged or underprivileged. As they say, if you educate one person, you’ve educated a community.
ZA: What are some of the things you enjoy doing outside of work?
SM: Listening to music and I’m a health and wellness enthusiast. I help others have an awareness of living a healthy lifestyle, by being mindful of what they eat. This is through sharing and coaching (Healthy Living Programme), using pure and safer products which are beneficial to one’s health.
ZA: It’s been quite a year for you. You won the Fashion4Africa award and Zim Achievers Award for fashion designer of the year. What did winning these awards mean to you?
SM: Winning these awards and prizes has given me confidence. I was truly humbled. Interestingly enough, I love entering random competitions. I may not win them all but, they teach me a lot about the industry and about me as a person.
ZA: What is next on the cards?
SM: I am currently working on mass producing my collections and making them available for sale in the future.