Passion drives designer to make masks

Matiza is part of a campaign which has seen him create face masks like this one to help curb the shortage of masks and gloves in SA./SUPPLIED
Matiza is part of a campaign which has seen him create face masks like this one to help curb the shortage of masks and gloves in SA./SUPPLIED

With a nomadic upbringing that saw young designer Kuda Matiza's move from Zimbabwe to SA, he found himself falling in love with an artistic passion fuelled by an assortment of cultural influences of many worlds.

When it came to creating tangible art that he could turn into a business, Matiza looked to the world of fashion to make a meaningful impact.

"I looked at the market and looked at what was not there and then conceptualised House of Hohwa," says Matiza, who explained that the name derives from where he grew up in Zimbabwe.

"The diversity of the culture and the colours hit home when I looked at African stories and I was really interested in portraying and conceptualising them into collections."

Matiza is currently part of a campaign with the Newtown Junction Mall which has seen him create face masks and gloves in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. The initiative also helped create awareness by educating people on how to stay safe.

While the masks and gloves might not prevent contraction, they aid as protective gear which Matiza has found to pull in a large young audience.

"We have a lot of people that are running up and down the streets and in order for us to achieve the flattening of the curve and nipping the pandemic in the bud we have to find ways to do it. We are just contributing as a piece of the puzzle of the solution."

While the story of the brand's growth is a shining beacon of hope for other designers faced with the pandemic, Matiza had great difficulty starting the business.

"I started this business with my last salary from my last job. Ever since then it's been difficult to put things together and to keep the business afloat," says Matiza, "to also reinvest in yourself is difficult as well. There are so many things I've had to deprive myself of because the aim was to build the business."

While many hurdles have stood in the way of Matiza's success, none shook him quite like the recent xenophobic attacks that shocked the nation late last year. Johannesburg CBD has been the business hub for suppliers and buyers, so it took a toll on operations. "Our suppliers could not operate as usual, our clients could not access us because they were afraid of what was happening in Joburg central and that already just killed the business," says Matiza, who finds that the national lockdown has been less of a hindrance and somewhat familiar.

"Nobody is doing anything and that is quite damaging for a business. But, I think overcoming it is being prepared for whatever might come to happen. The life of an entrepreneur changes on a daily basis. You never know what is going to happen on a daily basis. Our quest is to build our business but the journey towards that is solving problems."

With retailers currently closed, the masks are not currently available for purchase but can be ordered.

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