By Patience Lunda.
“Only those who chase the dreams, are the ones who catch them.” Booker T (former WWE Wrestler)
Dreamers never achieve anything in life; that’s a fact. But there is a rare species of human beings that not only dream, but also work towards actualizing those dreams. One of those rare gems is the youthful Blantyre-based fashion designing entrepreneur, Maureen Mahenge.
Born 22 years ago, the genesis to Maureen’s rise to stardom started with a passion; a passion for fashion designing. In her old testament, fashion designing was just a pastime activity. That she could one day eke a living out of perfecting her passion was not within her encephalon’s area of influence. She was just “one of those Malawian ladies who were good at playing around with pieces of cloth.”
Little by little, she had no idea eyes were watching. Curious minds were noticing the genius that was in her hands.
“I had no idea of my own capabilities. Back then, I could make my own clothes only for fun but there was one moment that changed me forever.
Genesis chapter one; The Turning point
It was one cool morning in 2005 as Maureen was swaggering along the sidewalks of Blantyre city when one curious lady noticed something peculiar.
“This lady asked where I had purchased my outfit. She could not believe I had designed it myself. She couldn’t believe it. It was this lady who enlightened me of my potentials. Later she recommended me to an online fashion-designing competition called FAME Malawi,” she reminisces.
Even though she was not successful (in clinching a position due to other reasons) but this was her turning point. This was the moment that energized her wits. It was the revelation about the path she was to take.
It was that revelation that fired the youthful entrepreneur to start thinking big. That was the turning point.
Genesis Chapter Two: the birth of Maur Designs
Maureen realized time was ripe for her to start generating revenue out of her sweats. She had to organize her team; This marked the birth of a pretty charming baby, Maur Designs.
“I had started with one tailor, but as we started expanding, the human resource had to be increased as well so as to match the ever increasing demand.” She says.
What’s so interesting about fashion designing?
The field is always lively. Almost every day is like a learning moment because there is always a lot I get to see and learn, which makes me feel like there’s always more to every outfit. It’s like you always learn to be creative; trying to bring something unique on the market
Should people take designing seriously?
According to Mahenge, there is an untapped gold in fashion designing. The field is one of the hidden economic transformation vehicles in the country if well utilized.
“Designing is more like innovating something on your own or adding up to something to make it unique. But the problem is that whenever someone comes up with a unique design, copycats easily jump into it. As a result, most misguided Malawians tend to downplay the potential of this sector,” she wails.
What needs to be done to promote fashion designing in Malawi
Exposure of the talents is the name of the game. The youthful entrepreneur feels the country has the potential to climb the ladder as more people are now interested in the field than the last decade.
“Shows, competitions even scholarships should be some of the events or rewards to upcoming fashion designers. All these can assist in boosting this industry. Of course, as a nation, we are ascending as far as this field is concerned, but I feel there’s still room for development,” she recommends.
The marriage between entrepreneurship, and academic life
For starters, Maureen Mahenge is more than just an entrepreneur. She is also an academician. Currently, she is in her final year pursuing a first degree in Business Communication at the University of Malawi’s Polytechnic (in Blantyre).
For every business person has to manage their time properly, Maureen is no exception.
“I do plan my time. If I’ve work to do, I do it the moment I’m out of class and during weekends. That aside, I have a very dedicated and professional team hence each one of us knows their tasks properly. As a result, we always meet our goals easily. Personally that also works to my advantage,” she clarifies.
Any stand out creation?
The sketches I made for the Airtel Trendy advert. It is an advert on the many services that users can access via Airtel volume data bundles and one of the things someone can do is to search about fashion on Instagram. So I had to make sketches of an outfit that would be worn by Mwawi Kumwenda (a player for senior female Malawi national netball team), and luckily, they went through.
Role model in the industry
Miss Pearls. She just brings out the unexpected in every outfit; I love her work.
Full Name: Maureen Mahenge
Date of birth; 18th March 1995
Academic info; 4th year student in Business Communication (University of Malawi; The Polytechnic)
Business contact details
I operate from either Ndirande or The (Malawi) Polytechnic campus
Mobile phone numbers; 0999590096/0881000407
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my instagram page @maur_designs