By Amanda Ellen Nicola Jojo
OVER the years, entrepreneurship has been associated with creativeness, innovation and new inventions. For the purpose of going beyond owning stand-alone boutiques and stores, there has been a breed of fashion entrepreneurs who are characterized by incorporation of creation as well as penetration of various niche markets.
Rachel “Vintage Rae” Mugoni is an eco-conscious fashion entrepreneur whose business model is hinged upon use of relatively low-technology production system. Her sustainable fashion brand finds beauty in discarded industrial materials, upcycling and recycling them into classic brands.
“When I was at university I used to wear vintage clothes and people started calling me ‘Vintage Rae’ and I have adopted that theme for my creations,” Rachel told this publication.
Rachel is a Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) Creative Art and Design graduate and she believes that the tertiary equipped her with the basic know-how of running her business.
“I was inspired also by my friend who learnt at CUT therefore I enrolled at CUT and started doing creative art and design.
“As much as I was born in a family of creatives, I went to university anyways and it helped me on exposure, communication skills and networking. I got into fashion by default.
“Compulsory modules such as marketing, entrepreneurship and research shaped the way I see things and interact with other people,” Rachel said.
For some time, Zimbabwe has been economically fragile because of various macroeconomic factors which to some extent has resulted in shrinkage of the job market. As such, Rachel reinforces the adage “Necessity is the mother of innovation,” thus, the state of the economy pulled her into entrepreneurship.
“Indeed, necessity is the mother of all inventions, the economy was going down, after I finished my education, there were no jobs so I took the route of making crafts and selling them for instance handmade male bow ties.
“Additionally, I have always been a lover of fashion since childhood I started designing unique things for my doll after high school I had no intentions to pursue fashion. I sketched designs along the way I came across creative people who gave me inspiration,” she stressed.
For as long as she remembers, Rachel has always been into the concept of do-it-yourself (DIY)and she somewhat became an expert at her craft.
“I have always been a DIY and accessory designer person because it is very economical and it produces unique results. During the COVID-19 period when connections were mostly virtual I created match box earrings and shared the results via social media the response was overwhelming,” she expressed.
In the view of the notion that social media marketing is reemphasized as a gamechanger for small businesses, Rachel testified that it has helped her to put her business on the map.
“The target market is characterized by digital natives as such, social media marketing is working for me and it has broadened my reach by defying geographical boundaries since I stay in a very small town,” she said.
Because Rachel is repurposing waste, she is also identified as an environmentalist because she uses her status and brand to promote environment and social responsibility.
“I use the mantra use what you have, because I have been a recycler and upcycler, got attention from other environmentalists,” she stated.
Since influence is something that is not gained in isolation, Rachel draws her inspiration from quite a number of people.
She said: “I have many role models but I am mostly inspired by people who are consistent with their work.
“My advice to fellow aspiring entrepreneurs out there is whatever you want to do just start, be willing to learn from other people.
“No matter how creative you are, you are going to need inspiration from other therefore, follow the path of accomplished people because that will help in shaping you.”