Every Sunday evening, social media buzzes with excitement about what OPW host Thembisa Mdoda will be wearing. We speak to Dainty Frocks owner Nqobile Tshalata, the designer who’s responsible for Thembisa’s outfits.
When and how did your love for fashion begin?My love started from a very young age through trying on my mom’s clothes and seeing her rocking the trends of her time.
When did you realise that you were going to turn your passion into a business?It was after I quit my 8-4 where I worked as an assistant.
What were the challenges you faced in the beginning? How did you overcome them?The main struggle was not having the money to start Dainty Frocks. Initially, I would source clothes and sell them and deliver them. It was a cash-on-delivery arrangement. I didn't have a car so I used public transport. Sometimes, I’d travel to a customer only to find that she doesn’t like a garment, which would be a wasted trip.
How did you come up with the name Dainty Frocks?My mom used to say things were dainty if she thought they were beautiful and elegant, so this is a word we were exposed to growing up. A frock is a dress, so when I opened the company Dainty Frocks was perfect for my brand because it meant simple elegance.
How did you start Dainty Frocks?I started Dainty Frocks in my home with no capital. My husband helped me every month. I was a housewife at the time but I knew that I wanted to do more so my kids could have more. I started off by selling things that I would source.
You’ve been dressing Thembisa Mdoda for a while now. How did that relationship come about?Thembisa was a customer from the time I ran Dainty frocks in my home. She loved the brand and had almost everything we had and we also grew an amazing relationship and became friends. We started dressing her for photo shoots and we've been together since.
What exactly does Thembisa do for your brand?Thembisa wears my clothes with such confidence and elegance. She looks gorgeous in everything she puts on. She wears my brand with pride, which is exactly how I wear it and want it to be worn.
Why did you choose her?I chose Thembisa because she is one of the many women who understand and love my brand and what it offers them. And because of the relationship we have I love working with her. She is simple elegance.
Women are always put against each other but you work with so many. How do you overcome the stigma?I grew up in a home that just had women, my brother is the only man and I believe in the power and influence women have. I believe that women are the strongest creatures alive as they can play so many roles and excel in every single one. I know the pressure and the unfairness that we face as women all the time, and because of that I believe that it is up to us as women to guide each other in everything we do.
You also collaborate with Fabro Sands and NtoZinhle. How did that relationship start?NtoZinhle and I were each doing our own pop ups, so we decided to collaborate and have sales together. We met FabroSanz two years after our union, who later joined us as well.
What advice would you give a young woman who’s trying to start her own business?Go for it! If you believe you can do it, you definitely can. The biggest obstacle and the only thing stopping you is yourself and as soon as you realise that you'll see just how far you can get. Knock on the doors, ask the questions and ask for help. The worst you could be told is no and that is something you've heard countless times.