This Mthatha woman used lockdown to open a fashion academy

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Adda Bhala shares her journey in the fashion industry and starting an initiative to help people with design 101.
Adda Bhala shares her journey in the fashion industry and starting an initiative to help people with design 101.

When others saw weeks and months of staying home doing nothing when lockdown was announced, she saw an opportunity.

Blogger and social media personality, Adda Bhala opened a fashion academy from the comfort of her home.

She uses the digital platform to teach financial independence and basic fashion and design skills through her masterclasses.

The Mthatha-born Adda hopes to create a new crop of entrepreneurs with her classes. 

We caught up with her to find out her plans for the academy. 

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When did you fall in love with fashion and design?

I always had a passion for fashion magazines. I was also obsessed with modelling when I was studying. I really liked it and I would also do my research about it and it’s how I got my inspiration to initially get into the fashion industry and start creating what I want to create. I didn’t know that I wanted to be a designer, but I knew that I wanted to be in fashion.

Do you remember the first garment you designed?

The first garment I made wasn’t really a matter of inspiration because it was just a practical garment that I was learning how to make. It was a winter cape I made from a woolen fabric and it was the first thing that I learned how to make which was in 2011.

Adda Bhala
Adda Bhala wants to make a mark in the industry.

Why did you decide to start your initiative of online masterclasses with Adda Kouture?

I realised the gap between traditional fashion schools and what students need. I noticed that students in traditional schools were not prepared for the real world of fashion and the business side of things.

I felt like they didn’t accommodate African students because most of us cannot afford to leave school and start businesses right away and employ people because we don’t come from the privilege of wealthy families. If you only know how to design in theory and put ideas on paper and don’t know how to bring the clothing to life, then you will have a problem. I’m passionate about the creative process of designing and I also want to share that with people.

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Adda Bhala and her design school and non-theory ba
Adda Bhala speaks about how starting off as a model opened her up to the fashion business.

What type of skills do people in your masterclass walk away with?

Pattern designing and garment construction. These are the skills needed to make clothing more than theory. I use the theory as a quick introduction to my classes. The skills you need if your goal is to make clothing and sell it to people then there’s nothing more important than these two skills that I offer to people.

What advice can you give to people trying to thread their way in the fashion industry?

You need to have great passion for the industry. It is very cut-throat. You must have vision for what you want – don’t just get into it for the glamorous side of things. Have a passion for the process of design, sourcing inspiration and knowing and studying other designers. You need to be committed to the mission.

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