The Sunday News
Nothando Ndhlovu Sunday Leisure Reporter
MANY people find changing careers challenging but that was not the case with Zimbabwean lawyer-turned-designer, Phoebe Mwanza, who has since answered to her calling of being a fashion designer.
Mwanza launched her clothing label, The Prodigal Daughter (TPD), last year after practising law for seven years.
In an interview, Phoebe said her passion for fashion drove her into such a drastic career change.
“I always wanted to be a fashion designer, even as a child. Last year I decided to finally give it a go. I am currently taking a break from law and so far the ride has been really great,” said Phoebe.
She said her label — TPD was drawn from the biblical parable — The Prodigal Son.
“This story inspired me because this is how I feel my life has been. It is a story about me returning back to my African roots and loving my culture again. Before pursuing my career in design I guess I did not embrace it as much,” she said.
Phoebe was born in Zambia but was raised in Zimbabwe before moving to Australia.
“My father was part Zambian, part Zimbabwean. I was born in Zambia and we moved to Zimbabwe when I was three years old. I left for Australia in 2002 to pursue my studies and I have been living there ever since,” she explained.
Phoebe said her family lived in Mzilikazi before moving to Morningside.
She went to Mckeurtan Primary School and Eveline Girls High School where she tried her hand at dressmaking.
Phoebe said she put her passion on hold when she was 19, as she left Zimbabwe to study law in Australia.
This, however, did not deter her from pursuing her dreams as she is now a household name in the country.
Phoebe noted that being exposed to different cultures inspired her designs, which have an African touch with a bit of modern chic.
Her collections, Inception and Meraki, have received outstanding reviews and have been exhibited at some of the country’s popular fashion extravaganza — Fashfest.
“Inception and Meraki are both African-inspired but they have their differences. Meraki is a bit more evolved and experimental than the former and it also encompasses block prints,” said Phoebe.
Phoebe is working on a few projects to promote her new collection such as runway events and market dates.
“I am also looking for opportunities to have my clothes stocked in more shops and boutiques. I also have plans to expand my business and I have an online store which sells to every country,” she said.
Phoebe said the shift from law to fashion designing wasn’t an easy walk in the park but her effort paid off.
“My brand is growing and like any other business it has its ups and downs but I am proud of what I have achieved in the past year. Dealing with suppliers was the greatest challenge because I manufacture overseas so I never really knew what I was going to get until I got it. I tackled this problem by hiring a person to do the quality control to make sure that the clothing meets my standards,” she said.
Phoebe said her family was supportive of her choice although it was difficult for them to adjust to the change.
Phoebe noted that she might return to Law as a fallback plan in case her design endeavours crumbled.
“I am currently a full-time designer but I will probably go back to Law if this does not work out. I don’t want to think of it that way because failure is not an option for me. I want to give my business my all,” she said.
Phoebe hopes to see her creations stocked in boutiques across Australia and internationally.