WATCH | High fashion: Drug addict kicks habit and starts fashion line

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  • Shannon Caswell battled a heroin addiction for 13 long years.
  • He decided to turn his life around after hitting rock bottom.
  • Today, Caswell has a successful fashion line and dreams of owning a clothing store.

Shannon Caswell is slowly stitching his life back together after spending years battling the demons of drug addiction.

Caswell, who lives in Hanover Park, Cape Town, has put those demons squarely behind him and runs his own successful fashion line.

"I never thought this would be the life I would live," Caswell told News24.

READ | A crime gone wrong helps drug addict get off the streets

The self-taught designer makes everything from scratch. His range includes pants, hoodies, jackets and tops.

"At the beginning, I had to learn how to stitch, but now I can make anything with material," he said proudly.

The 29-year-old has always had a passion for fashion but was derailed by substance abuse.

"I always wanted to look fresh and have on new clothes," he explained.

Shannon Caswell
Shannon Caswell (middle) poses with a group of models all wearing clothes from his fashion brand STETS.
News24 Bertram Malgas

Hitting rock bottom

But for 13 long years, this father of three's life was consumed by his heroin addiction.

He said mixing with the wrong crowd and trying to impress fake friends led him down a destructive path. He got involved with gangs and, at one low point, he was destitute and living on the streets.

Caswell's drug habit had ruined his relationship with his family, and due to his destructive lifestyle his children lived with relatives.

He said he hit rock bottom when his daughter saw him lying on the street after a drug binge.

"While I was on drugs, I didn't care about anyone but myself. So, I was surprised that my 2-year-old daughter, even when she saw me like that, could still show me love.

"I knew I had to become a role model for them," he said.

Stitching his life back together

After a stint in rehab, Caswell slowly started picking up the pieces of his life.

Caswell lost his job in retail when the coronavirus pandemic hit South African shores in 2020. He fell on hard times, but the adversity inspired him to create his fashion line – STETS.

STETS incorporates the first letters of Shannon, Tamlyn, Elijah, Tyrese and Shaylin.

"I wanted to start something that can last, and because my family is my inspiration. So I decided to name it after them, to give what I am doing more meaning," Caswell explained.

The budding designer wants to grow his brand and has dreams of opening a store in the future.

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