The African fashion industry is definitely on the move, and in Zimbabwe one woman fashion retail-preneur is realising her vision to put the country’s fashion designers on the map, and create an innovative online retail fashion outlet to showcase their work. Mellisa Mazingi and her company zedlabel, is an African fashion-preneur with a big vision and big ideas - a name to watch on the continent.
LoA spoke to Mellisa this month to find out more about this great fashion concept and her vision to promote Zimbabwean designers
Tell us a little about your company and what it does?
zedlabel is an online store for Zimbabwean fashion designers. We bridge the gap between the fashion-loving customer who wants unique, quality and affordable fashion and the clothing, accessory and beauty brand designers of Zimbabwe. Our objective is to create growth in the Zimbabwean fashion sector.
In addition to selling local fashion brands, we provide loan funding to talented Zimbabwean fashion designers, and facilitate training and mentoring programmes for local designers too. It's all about growing the industry, which in turn feeds growth for the business.
"zedlabel is an evolving afro-style destination, which helps designers grow their businesses and puts Zimbabwean fashion on the map."
What inspired you to start your company?
I identified the need for a ready-to-wear platform for Zimbabwean fashion designers while writing for my Zimbabwean fashion blog, Zim Fashionista, and running my fashion events and PR company. I realised that there was an incredible amount of design talent in Zimbabwe, but that for the designers' brands to grow they needed to move into ready-to-wear and make their fashion more accessible to the market. zedlabel does that with low cost to the designers, but reaches a wider audience.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We sell unique, quality clothing and accessories by Zimbabwean designers and stock some excellent local beauty brands too. zedlabel is an evolving afro-style destination, which helps designers grow their businesses and puts Zimbabwean fashion on the map.
"When the business is yours and you're making it grow, you're always moving - and sometimes it feels like you're running in a hamster wheel! But occasionally I look up and see how far the company has gone and it inspires me to keep moving."
Tell us a little about your team
zedlabel employs two permanent staff, as well as 1-2 interns each year. Our team is wholly comprised of women as I believe in female empowerment and have a platform to carry out my small part. It's a dynamic work environment because as with every start-up there's always a thousand things to do at any one point in time, but that allows for so much learning and personal development too.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I studied accounting and auditing, and worked at an international accounting firm in Harare for 3 years. When I began working on my events business full-time in 2011, I did a lot of different things - from weddings to corporate events to children's parties! I found my niche in fashion around the same time that I started my fashion blog in July of that year, and my events company became a fashion events and PR company. I expanded the business to include it's 3rd wing, zedlabel, in 2014 and haven't looked back. I've found the perfect way to blend my love of fashion and all things Zimbabwean with my financial background, helping local fashion brands and designers grow their creativity into sustainable business.
"I plan to grow zedlabel into a benchmark for African fashion retail internationally, making Zimbabwe a leader in fashion from the continent by taking its fashion worldwide."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I plan to grow zedlabel into a benchmark for African fashion retail internationally, making Zimbabwe a leader in fashion from the continent by taking its fashion worldwide. This goes hand-in-hand with growing the Zim Fashionista blog and expanding my fashion events and PR business.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Getting the job done. When the business is yours and you're making it grow, you're always moving - and sometimes it feels like you're running in a hamster wheel! But occasionally I look up and see how far the company has gone and it inspires me to keep moving. I think we're making a difference in the local fashion sector, and that's exciting to see.
#EntrepreneurAdvice "Build a support network so you can seek advice when needed"
- Mellisa Mazingi founder @zedlabel
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Build a support network so you can seek advice when needed, and be meticulous about planning and execution. But most importantly, enjoy the journey.
Contact or follow Zedlabel
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love women entrepreneurs that have a vision as to how they can help to transform their industry sector or their countries, and in Zimbabwe, there is no doubt that fashion retail-preneur, Mellisa Mazingi, is doing both of those things. She is a woman with a big vision and the energy and passion to match, and she is playing her part in raising the profile of Zimbabwe’s talented women fashion designers to a global audience. We applaud her for it, and love her approach to building a business and brand concept in this highly visible and competitive market environment. Definitely an African entrepreneur to watch! --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa