SOMETIMES when things do not work out as planned, it is a blessing in disguise. This is certainly true for Port Elizabeth fashion designer Jason Kieck.
When Kieck’s application to study interior design was declined, he was forced to study his second choice: fashion.
Nineteen years later, Kieck has built a large client-base and is renowned throughout Nelson Mandela Bay for his feminine, timeless designs.
The founder and owner of the Jason Kieck clothing label, Kieck is so passionate about fashion that it is hard to believe that it was not always his first choice for a career.
“When I was not accepted for interior design, I went for my second choice which was a three-year diploma in fashion designing at the then Natal Technikon [now the Durban University of Technology] – and I was accepted.
“Natal Technikon was considered the best design institution in the country so we had to compete with students outside of South Africa.
“I submitted my portfolio and I think they liked it so that is why I was offered a place to study fashion.”
The father of three, two boys and a girl, he would not trade his profession for anything in the world now.
“I enjoy what I am doing. Before I design a gown for a bride to be or for a matric dance pupil, I make sure that I match the person’s figure with her personality,” Kieck said.
“I always put my clients’ needs first and that has made me a trusted name in the Eastern Cape fashion industry.”
His gowns cost R2000 and upwards.
“I am not expensive at all because I charge a third of what people in Johannesburg would pay for my gowns.”
Kieck employs two full-time seamstresses and his mother runs the administrative side of the company.
“When we are extremely busy, I hire two temporary seamstresses to deal with the extra workload because I always deliver on time.”
Kieck, who is an SA champion in Latin American and ballroom dancing, said although he knew that moving to Johannesburg or Cape Town would have boosted his career, he had no regrets about staying in Port Elizabeth, as he loved the city.
“I am paying the price for being based in PE. Former Miss South Africa Cindy Nel once said to me that if I was based in one of the two big cities, I would have been the biggest name in the fashion industry in the country. But I have no regrets.”
Kieck has been self-employed since he obtained his diploma in 1994.
“Being your own boss can be very stressful sometimes,” he said.
“I would have enjoyed getting a salary in the beginning for the security it provides. However, being your own boss allows flexibility so I can spend more time with my children. That on its own is a huge blessing in my life.”
Besides designing gowns, Kieck is also involved in social responsibility outreach work.
“I am involved with Reach for a Dream where we spend time with children with terminal illnesses,” he said.
The fashion label boss has come a long way since the days of advertising his business through the Yellow Pages.
“We keep up to date with electronic media to grow the business, with Facebook and a website being the two tools we use. However, the social responsibility programmes have also helped the business a lot,” he said.