by Brigette Mashile, founder of Roka Roko
Last week I was in Durban taking part in the KZN Fashion Council’s AFX expo. The main reason I agreed is they said there’s a fashion show and I will be showing. Well duh! Nothing is more exciting to a fashion designer than ‘hey here is a platform, come and show us what you can do’; everything is planned and in place, you much just show up. Thank God! So, I was already 80% into finishing the new range; I completed it and headed down. This range has been in my head for 4 months - I am that person….everything is in my head…writing it down is another mission.
So being there was fun for me; mainly because I was in a space with like-minded people, and every conversation was about fashion. We met new people who could make valuable comments about ‘luxury fashion’; background comments - things like how much time and money it takes to create such a product, and if the market is ready or not. I had conversations with people who have been in the industry for years; people who decided to be human rather than the ‘airy fairy’, extra ‘uberness’ people want to turn the fashion industry into. It’s not. It’s real. Like the fashion show itself; these are real, in real time. I took lessons from it, again:
1. I arrived first for fittings on Friday
I had been bothering the organizers for 3 days about models; asking their sizes, do they have shoes, etc. The lady started calling me her difficult child jokingly and I accepted. By the time the fitting time came, I had been waiting with my 6 looks in size 34. Guess what? As expected, no one was size 34. So, I scanned the room and picked ladies I felt would fit better. I went against the plan in place; they had picked ladies per designer….well listen ….if it ain’t working, it ain’t working. I even asked for one of the assistants to walk for me, she looked best in that dress, so well!
I was done by 3; went to nap and returned at 6:30pm. By now, more designers had been in the room and it was busier. The steamer was free and I steamed. This is the one place where it is chaotic around me and I am uber calm. My models were dressed and ready on time; went out and back in seamlessy. This is also the one place in my entire life I plan well for; and follow through. Why can’t I apply this planning and gusto to other areas of my business and my life? Seriously, I am good at fashion shows back stage. I need to apply this every where else in my life.
2. I had another appointment in between the show
Qenehelo from Que Consulting had arranged an interview on SAFM for me for the same Friday. On arrival, I discover it is exactly at the same damn time as my time on the ramp. How?? Well, I decided there’s nothing else to do but tell the backstage manager. She asks me to move it and I ask Q and indeed we move it. It went from 7:15 pm to 7:45pm. Guess what? What is the one thing you are most definitely sure a fashion show will be? LATE! Lol. I told them I don’t care what happens but at 7:45 I am on the radio, I will not ask SAFM to move again…and my mother and father are listening, so please hey! Somehow, because I pray, or because many pray for me, the radio interview happened on time and my ramp time became 8:20pm. I think this is the luck we are told to expect sometimes in life. Combined with being ready for anything; plus effective risk management ahead of time; regardless of what a nuisance you are being. Rather be honest than shock people later.
3. I was able to help
You know how? Because my No.1 went well. I had time to sit and watch or help anyone else. I put a chair at the very door they use to the ramp and recorded each of them, for social media. It was fun. Having the final product coming out of the chaos that is back stage LOL. If you plan your part in the show well and execute it well; you are able to assist others. I found myself shouting with the backstage manager at models and designers; then remembered I am not getting paid for this and these aren’t my mother’s children; I am not first born here. STOP! But in life too, if you plan well and execute your dream well; manage your risk well; you find that you have time to assist others.
Fashion shows are amazing; back stage. It is an absolute thrill to be in them. its fabrics, shoes, make up, models, male and females, designers and the managers screaming at us at the top of their voices. It’s the excitement of the ramp and wanting to get on it fast!! This is also the one place people can be naked and not care. We are changing from one outfit to another; and no one is being a silly human staring at others. One place where we don’t care about your sexuality, religion or tradition. We are here to make a show; and the show must be wow! At the end of this; no one can stand. I simply went to get a meal and hit the bed. What a joy ride! Thank you KZN Fashion Council.
Brigette Mashile is the founder and creative force behind Roka Roko, a custom fashion design business based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company passionately delivers quality tailored and trendy fashion to make their customers happy, and specializes in styling women by creating unusual combinations with fabric, culture and style. Brigette has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Witwatersrand and a Fashion Diploma from Studio5 School of Fashion. She’s a former fashion buyer for a major retailer in South Africa, and an international direct selling company. She’s been passionate about fashion since the age of 10 and gained invaluable experience in the fashion world running informal fashion creation businesses until the day her own Roka Roko brand was born. Find out more by visiting the Roka Roko website www.rokaroko.co.za
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