Zikhona’s creativity was evident from a very young age – one could even say she sucked it from her mother’s tit. She used to watch her mother make clothes for her dolls and she would play with the left over material and create her own designs for her friends. But that’s not where the creativity ended. Her mother would also plait people’s hair, using intricate designs that showed both style and beauty.
“My mother had always wanted a sewing machine, but she never really got it. She was fantastic at sewing by hand with just a thread and needle, and I would sit for hours and just watch her. She could also draw and I think that’s where I got that from.”
This 27 year-old fashionista calls the Eastern Cape her home though she grew up in Cape Town’s infamous Langa Township. After high school she studied Marketing at CPUT but this was not her first love.
“I initially wanted to be a fashion designer, but as you know that’s just child’s play to our elders. You must aspire to be something great like a doctor, an accountant, a lawyer or an engineer,” she laughs as she tells the struggle of most young people this day and age, whose parents want them to choose “secure” careers. So Zikhona did her family proud and graduated from CPUT and got a job in the field she studied for.
But her love for design was woven in the strings of her heart and in 2017 she started Sloan Dala, her own design label.
“The idea was to explore the philosophy of Art found in African culture for modern African women’s clothing, and telling African stories through chic clothing that resemble culture and exudes confidence.”
Zikhona draws her inspiration from her family’s history and rich culture.
“The name Sloan Dala was inspired by my grandfather, Sloan Zweliwinile (Dala) Ngamntwini. Dala is a family clan name meaning ‘to create’. The clan name is the beginning of the family hierarchy: ooDala, Nteyi, Mganu, Ciko, Yolashe, Dibandlela, Sgananda, Jalamba, Bomvana into za phesha kweNciba. In essence, Sloan Dala is my identity and to know oneself is enlightenment.”
Although Zikhona works 9-5 as a Social Media Manager, she doesn’t let the fast-paced world of advertising keep her from her designs. The time she dedicates to her designs does not go unnoticed and her clients are always happy with her work.
Newly-weds in Joburg posted this on her Sloan Dala Facebook page recently:
“I have no words for you Zikhona. One: I gave you wrong measurements without knowing 😂 and you told me straight they can’t be right, mind you I am based in JHB and she is in CPT. But I didn’t have to stress about anything. Our attire (my husband’s and mine) fitted us perfectly and we fitted them for the 1st time. They were posted because we couldn’t meet face to face ❤ and we received the goods in good quality as promised to us👌👌. Continue to do what you love and stay WINNING!”
Zikhona admits that she doesn’t have it all figured out, but all her artistic attributes work together just well.
“My life is in shambles! Basically I try to rest as much as I can, reserve my weekends for my clients and for any urgent sewing responsibilities. I have to work on those after work. As for modelling, that is part of my job. I don’t have to but it kind of works out on its own as I’m working in an advertising agency. I actually have not touched a canvas with a paint brush in almost a year! My biggest obstacles is time and finances.”
She also believes fully in the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. She attributes her success to Catherine and Tamarin, her colleagues, who have been instrumental in shaping her career.
“Cath saw potential in me and that was the start of my social media career and Tam mentored me through that journey. They have been both incredibly supportive of me in both fields.”
And what does the future look like for this young go-getter?
“I’ve started a YouTube channel called ‘The Good Times Channel’ with my best friend Sisipho Goniwe. Our first video – Get To Know Us – has gone live, but we’re still on the content for the channel. My plan is that in 10 years I’ll have a big studio and capital to actually start manufacturing clothing on a much bigger scale.”
Clearly, the sky is the limit for Zikhona, and she encourages other young people to keep pushing to better themselves.
“Read as much as you can to better your vocab and try and upskill yourself, perhaps through a short course. Jobs are very scarce and you need some kind of skill to keep your head above water when times are tough. I encourage everyone to get an education. I’d be very happy to assist with applications. It’s never too late and no one, no one will ever take your degree away from you.”
For orders or to view Zikhona’s creations, find her on:
Instagram: sloandala or zikhonagwadiso
Tell us: What do you dream of becoming?