Designer ‘pays it forward’

2016-07-05 06:00

A 20-year-old Masiphumelele resident has big dreams to change the world through design.

Mzwandile Xhonti’s creativity and love for design got him interested in fashion design, and he is now teaching others the art.

He enrolled as a Youth Intern at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre (DTHF YC), which runs a programme that provides Xhonti with well-supervised work experience, equips him with interpersonal and leadership skills, and educates him in basic project management skills.

Xhonti studied at Masiphumelele High school until Grade 10. He then transferred to False Bay College where he successfully completed a course in hospitality and catering. His love for anything creative led him to enrol into a six-month sewing and clothing pattern making course.

By day Xhonti is an intern at the youth centre and by night he is a budding entrepreneur. He has conceptualised a clothing brand called ARTTRA – transformed recycled art. Mzwai’s current entrepreneurial interest is focused on designing rucksacks, outfits with attitude, and accessories to boot. He uses ‘old outfits’ as the foundational material to create hip street fashion.

Mzwai’s dream is to open a shop in Masiphumelele that will showcase his creations. The ARTTRA brand has been in existence for 10 months and is dynamically evolving.

“My dream for the future is to go back to university to study fashion and design and then go ahead and own a clothing store in one of the biggest malls in Cape Town,” he says.

“I believe that fashion and designs can transform communities because it can create opportunities for the youth to develop the skills to create their own clothing designs. In the long term they can own a local clothing store that would create more job opportunities for the youth.”

Xhonti is coming to the end of his Youth Intern experience at the DTHF YC. However, he is very keen to volunteer a few hours each week to workshop design and pattern making skills with interested young people at the DTHF YC. Mzwai believes that “paying it forward” is an honourable principle to live by.

The challenge he faces is the need for sewing machines to help him facilitate his altruistic initiative and realise his empowerment endeavour.

V To assist Xhonti with a donation or mentoring, contact Dante Robbertze at dante.robbertze@hiv-research.org.za or 021 785 5454.

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