FIRST-YEAR BA Law student and fashion designer Kanyisa Qaba, has been running a clothing line, House of Manik, that caters for youth. She started the clothing line in high school with a friend, but has been running it as a solo operation since 2015 when the partnership ended. Wits Vuvuzela caught up with the 20-year-old ‘stylista’ to find out about how she draws inspiration from international trends and fits them in the South African fashion scene.
How would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself as a very motivated person, a very hard working person. I’m very direct and I also like to have fun. I’m a free spirit.
Why the name ‘House of Manik’?
I chose House of Manik by default. I wanted to name it Manik. When I was registering the company, Manik was taken so I decided on House of Manik.
How did the business get started and what was the inspiration behind it?
The business started out in 2014, first as Manic UK. The ‘Manic’ part of it, we just liked the name and then the UK stood for [the first letters of our first names]. When Unathi decided that she didn’t want to be part of the business anymore, I decided that “fine let me just keep the Manic but then change the C at the end of Manic, put a K which represents obviously my name, which is Kanyisa”.
What inspired the business was the fact that we didn’t want to ask our parents for money anymore. We thought, “Let’s do something for ourselves and let’s emancipate ourselves financially.”
How is your business funded?
I regenerate capital through sales and my parents have been very supportive of the whole thing. My mom put in an initial investment of about R10 000.
Who do you design for and why?
I have international trends in mind and things that will obviously sell. I am a business so I need to be able to keep the assembly line going. But I also have specific people like umama [my mother] for instance. She explored herself fashionwise in the 80s and 90s, so I take inspiration from her old clothes.
How do you handle varsity and running House of Manik?
It is tough because at some points, one has to fall. I have to just know what is right at the time. So obviously if I have a lot of work, I’d rather let the business kind of slide or take a back seat because at the end of the day I came to Wits to get a degree so that needs to be my number one priority. It has its challenges but it’s so rewarding.
What challengeshave come across?
There are so many people doing the same thing. So originality and just trying to express yourself as a fashion designer and as a business person without letting one of the components fall. That’s very challenging for me.
Who are your style icons locally and internationally?
I would say locally, my mother. Half of my stuff that I wear are hers from the 80s. Internationally, I would definitely say the likes of Rihanna, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. I like that very-high-fashion-but-comfortable look.
Do you get designers block?
I never get designers block. Sometimes I feel like there’s too much out there for me to even handle. My ideas are endless. I love designing, putting trends together and the whole creative process of coming up with a garment, trying to find material that will work. All those things for me are just so rewarding. I never get bored and I never run out of ideas.
What collection are you currently working on?
I’m really focused on selling Ebony and Ivory which is our current Spring collection. However, I am designing a capital collection which basically means that it’s a collection that is for the brand and the collection is going to be called Customs by Kanyi. So I’ll be starting off with my own ideas and making myself my own custom range and kind of spreading out from there. What I’m going to be doing with Customs by Kanyi is that I’m going to be making customised items for specific customers. So if a customer approaches me, I’ll try and take whatever idea or concept that they have and make it into a garment.