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Tell Our Story in Everyday Apparel

Posted on April 17, 2018

Zintle Intokazi which directly translates into “the girls are beautiful” is using simple, everyday apparel to change the narrative of what it means to be young and African while also celebrating influential African figures.

“As Africans, we often draw inspiration from international influences and forget that we don’t have to look too far from home for examples of remarkable people.”

The new business is the joint effort of cousins Nompumelelo and Bukwase Mgidlana and Nonisi Dlamini who say they’ve always wanted to conquer the world of business together. “Our cousin Bukwase created a Facebook page called Womyn Liberation to share positive stories about African women. We simply took this concept offline to create our clothing range.” The range currently consists of monochrome, unisex t-shirts which they plan to expand into more items of clothing within the next year. Although the primary target for Zintle Intokazi merchandise are students and other youth in Gauteng, the range has become a massive hit on social media – catching the attention of prominent figures like author of the popular Hlomu Series, Dudu Busani-Dube.

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“Strategic like Biko, strong like Sobukwe and Resolute like Mama Winnie” is one of the reaffirming messages adorning the Zintle Intokazi range of t-shirts with the aim of allowing young Africans to celebrate themselves, their history and their identity with what they wear everyday.

“The response has been amazing. We have people coming forward and suggesting commemorative messages they want to see on the t-shirts and other icons they want us to recognise.”

The biggest challenge that the trio have encountered is being undermined for being young and new to business and not being taken seriously. “People think we don’t know what we’re talking about. For instance, we had a problem with our supplier who thought we wouldn’t notice that the ink quality was different to what we had ordered or that the sizes weren’t accurate.”

 

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The decision to go into business as a family was both a natural and strategic one as the sisters wanted to capitalize on each other’s strength “Mpumi brings the creativity to the business, Nonisi is the manager while Bukwase is great with marketing.” They also draw from how their different ages allow them to bring diverse perspectives. “We understand each other’s way of working and the age gaps between us mean that each one brings a whole new outlook to the business.” With an online store in the pipeline, plans to introduce an autumn and winter range and their first television appearance already in the bag, Zintle Intokazi is on track to becoming an African brand to be reckoned with.

Their advice to aspiring youth entrepreneurs is simple: start where you are. “We know now that you don’t have to wait to have plenty of money to start your business. There are many challenges but they can be overcome if you do not get disheartened. If you believe in your idea, just go for it”

About the author: Dimpho Lekgeu

Dimpho Lekgeu is an award nominated television and radio broadcaster and writer. She started her career in the ANN7 newsroom at the age of 19, hosting daily news programs and producing the daily African bulletin – Africa Tonight. She’s played various roles in the media industry including anchoring news on Talk Radio 702 and hosting an entrepreneurial talkshow on the online business channel mybigstartup.com - all while obtaining her Bachelor of Commerce degree. She describes herself as a media maven, an aspiring story teller determined to tell real stories that positively shape Africa’s narrative. She’s inspired by black women, culture and her faith.