Helen Makasi

41, Cape Town

“My designs are inspired by South African diversity.”

Helen Makasi lives in Eerste River with her 16 year old daughter and 8 year old son and is a participant of the Remake programme at TCB (Taking Care of Business)

From down and out to fashion designer

Helen had completed her matric but was forced to drop out of Technicon due to financial constraints. Besides providing for her own children, she also had the added responsibility of helping her mother with extended family members too. She got a job at a bank and sold cosmetics on the side to make extra money.

However, that was not enough to cover the entire family’s expenses. Trying to keep up with groceries and bills she started getting into debt. Soon she was unable to afford her basic needs.

Traditional meets Modern Design

Helen started at TCB in the Resell programme and would buy rolls of fabric as well. She had already completed a 6-month sewing course at Sinako Sewing School.

One day Helen spoke to the Remake manager about her passion for sewing. She was told that the progamme focused on helping seamstresses start and grow their small seamstress businesses, she immediately knew it would be perfect for her.

Helen had always loved design and fashion and would make clothing for herself, her family and friends.

“At TCB I saw an opportunity to grow myself and my business. I learnt the importance of putting myself first and the value of money.”

Through TCB Helen learnt business skills, parenting skills and money management amongst other skills.

It was also the place she felt she was able to allow her creativity to shine.

Having always been inspired by the diversity of South Africa she tested the boundaries of combining traditional and modern designs and realised a big gap in the market for her offering.

“My designs don’t limit any ethnic and can be worn by any person at any occasion.”

Creativity that inspires

“I’ve learnt to have confidence in myself and my design and to stand on my own two feet,” she says.

When asked about her plans for the future, she replies, “I am working hard to make my business grow. I would love the chance to teach and pass on the skills I’ve learnt to youth and adults in my community, creating jobs for others and watching new design ideas and concepts flourish from them.”