‘Bootcamp’ for young designers

Activities at the Threads workshop this week included, from left, Standard Bank’s Ivy Strydom quizzing designers Algene Koeberg, Bridgette Lize and Asanda Mali Picture: Fredlin Adriaan


Port Elizabeth’s Threads fashion bootcamp saw 18 young Bay designers learn not only how to pitch their range and make a deal, but also how to sell ice to Eskimos and “speed date” this week.

A review committee of five fashion and business personalities grilled the aspiring designers during the incubator on Wednesday at the Standard Bank regional head office in Newton Park.

Threads Stitched by Standard Bank, in association with Mercedes-Benz, is a new national fashion accelerator programme which received 400 applications for 80 places at four bootcamps held this week across the country.

Thanks to the involvement of Bayborn designer Laduma Ngxokolo, the city was included with Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town for the project started by Fashion entrepreneurs Tania Habimana and Desiree Brouwer to upskill burgeoning fashion moguls.

This week’s project tested the young designers’ business savvy by looking at their negotiation and sales skills as well as marketing and financial literacy.

Masibulele “Masi” Matshaya, for example, was tasked with selling ice to Eskimoes, while Bridgette Lize had to persuade the judges to send her to Hong Kong on a trade mission instead of a nationally recognised designer.

“It was very informative and I enjoyed it,” Matshaya, who had to think on his feet to sell ice that had a fruity flavour to the Eskimos, said.

The group also was asked to prepare a one-minute elevator pitch and to “speed date” the judges with the accent on showcasing their financial literacy.

Only three candidates per city will go through to participate in the four-month national accelerator programme.

One will win a trade trip to Europe as well as an SME start-up pack from Standard Bank, mentorship and a vehicle for a year from Mercedes Benz.

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