By Ndanatsiwa Tagwireyi
DRIVEN by passion for fashion from a tender age under an unforgiving financially constrained background, Mairos Nickson Nikisi (34) never in his fantasy thought that he will one day start his own company, Nicks Fashions International and fondly dub it the ‘NF’ label.
Setting off from humble beginnings, Nikisi started Nicks Fashions International with only one branch in Zvishavane Central Business district before expanding to open another branch at Stand Number 2690 Makwasha, next to Jaravaza Complex in Zvishavane.
Reminiscing his entrepreneurial journey, Nikisi recalled how his modest upbringing in Harare pushed him to relocate to the small mining town of Zvishavane in search for employment and greener pastures but had his hopes shuttered.
“When l moved to Zvishavane for work, l was overwhelmed with disillusionment from a certain company that I worked for, prompting me to join my brothers in their fashion business under Nikisi Fashions before starting my own unique company, Nicks Fashions International,” Nikisi, who draws inspiration from his brother Godfrey Nikisi, told the Entrepreneurial Magazine.
“So far, I boast to have served respected corporates like Mimosa Mining Company, FC Platinum Holdings, TM Supermarket, OK supermarket, security companies, barber shops and saloons in Zvishavane and beyond.
“I have also dealt with schools which include, Marians Junior School but my area of specialisation also incorporates individuals with their own specific needs.”
Born in Harare in 1986, the 34-year-old father of two is slowly taking the design and textile sector by storm, judging from the response he is getting from reputable companies in the Great Dyke and beyond.
Like many Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Zimbabwe, Nikisi admitted that he faced quite a number of hurdles on his way up the ladder from the time he started Nicks Fashions International in 2016.
“It has always been my passion to design, put logos and print fabrics but shortage of readily available material and resources has been a major stumbling block that inhibits my ‘NF’ label from going viral the way I want it,” the fashion designer who describes himself as a perfectionist told this magazine.
“Other challenges emanate from individuals who place orders and later on change their minds before paying their dues in full.
“Such acts are very costly to the company but I always bring a positive spin to them through donating the finished clothes to orphanages and those in dire need of clothing.”
The fashionista exclusively revealed that he is fully aware that the world has gone digital and therefore uses modern communication technologies to maximise his client pool without pumping out a lot of money.
“I utilise Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms to market my products and services to people from all walks of life. People come into my inbox with their orders from what they would have seen on my WhatsApp statuses and other social media platforms,” the bubbling youthful designer said.
“Sometimes I take pictures of myself wearing clothes that I design and put the ‘NF’ logo on them and I get overwhelming responses from customers.
“There are times when I get requests for assistance via WhatsApp from clients and I utilise the application’s video call function to instruct customers on how to properly take their measurements.
“That has been helping me to serve clients based in Mutare, Masvingo, Harare, Gweru, Bulawayo and those abroad although the novel coronavirus has taken a negative tour on my international clients’ pool due to lack of transport to ferry their finished clothing.”
According to the youthful fashion and design entrepreneur, he is making significant strides to improve his brand visibility despite the current harsh economic era brought about by the lethal corona virus.
“Corona virus has indeed wreaked havoc across the globe and also affected the way we conduct business but we are capitalising on this opportunity to increase ‘NF’ brand visibility on the market, by giving free masks branded with an ‘NF’ logo to all our clients,” the ever-smiling father of two revealed, adding that he is blessed to have a wife who supports his hustles whole heartedly.
“I am married to Joseline Zano who gave me two bubbling boys but motherhood and home administration duties have never stopped her from supporting my business.
“That is why I opened another branch in Makwasha’s high density suburb for the convenience of my clients so that they do not travel to town in search of my services.
“My wife is usually operating from the Makwasha branch, from morning till 4pm and when she leaves work for household duties, I always take over from there.”
The fashionista who is also a Species College Cutting and Design graduate urged young and upcoming designers to take the fashion and design industry seriously and be innovative to avoid relying on formal employment only.
“Judging from the response of interns and other individuals I have trained so far, this industry is not taken seriously by upcoming designers due to lack of interest, passion and knowledge that one can make a living out of it,” Nikisi who believes designing runs in his blood said.
“I am already making a living and my motto, ‘A stitch in time saves nine,’ always reminds my clients to contact me on time,” the fashionista, who vows not to seek for formal employment again emphasised.
Nikisi added that he is optimistic that his ‘NF’ label will continue to grow in and outside Zimbabwe and his contribution will shape the clothing and textile environment in the country.