Philiswa Nkomo

42, Khayelitsha, I grew up in Langa and went to school there. I moved to Bellville when I got a job with the City of Cape Town and worked there for seven years. While there, I wanted to follow my dream – to become a fashion designer and make clothes! I always wanted to have my own business.

I kept thinking about this dream, and eventually, I stopped working and started to focus on my sewing business. I had the machines and started building my clothing design business for the next five years.

I never studied sewing. I learned everything on YouTube! But after 5 years, I felt limited in my ability to make things so I went back to school to learn clothing creation at Northlink College.

I thought that I would relaunch my business after my studies, but Covid hit us. I could not find an internship (needed to complete my studies) or any other job! My money was gone. I had to change my lifestyle. I moved back to Khayelitsha. It was very tough.

I had to start over. I started mingling with people, attending church, and building my network.

When I heard about The Clothing Bank and TradeUp and the opportunity to learn about the business side of clothing and fashion, I knew this was for me! TradeUp has taught me how to maintain and sustain and manage a business. I’ve learnt money management. This is what I needed to ensure that my clothing design business is sustainable.

Here I have learnt a lot. At school, you learn things a certain way. But here you work with people and learn from them – their creativity inspires you! They show you practical and easy ways to do things that you never knew.

The best thing about TradeUp is to know that you can. It gives you that egde to push more – to be resilient. You realise that life has second chances. You don’t feel in a corner because now you have opportunities. You grow.

You are not just here to do what you know. You are here to release and expand and learn new things; to make it in life. You learn how to sustain yourself and your business.

My business is growing one step at a time. I can already see the difference. I was feeling stuck. But now I am breathing again – I am in a whoile new phase of my life where I have energy. I feel proud of myself.

My family and the people around me they are proud of me too  – that I got up again and that I am flying.

My advice to others? Business is not something that pops up quickly. Building a business needs patience. You need to understand all the principles, and you need to apply all these principles every day for years to grow and sustain your business. You must keep learning and growing through every stage of your business. Do not fear if your business is crawling – that’s just a phase. Keep going.