Student’s Eco-Friendly Designs Destined for Dubai World Expo
Ms Nombuso Khanyile won recognition as one of the top 50 Design Indaba Emerging Creatives last year and now her eco-friendly fashion lines - Afrikan Passion Designs - are headed for the world stage after she was chosen among Design Indaba alumni who will exhibit at the Dubai World Expo, taking place from next month until March 2022.
Khanyile, who is completing her BSc Honours degree in Biochemistry at UKZN, co-founded Afrikan Passion Designs with Mr Nisbert Kembo - the duo design and manufacture leather accessories using recycled materials such as vehicle tyres.
After their participation in the 2020 Design Indaba, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) and Design Indaba included Khanyile’s business among select outstanding exhibitors over the past 10 years of the programme whose fashion wear will appear at the Dubai World Expo’s digital showcase.
‘I am so grateful to have been selected,’ said Khanyile. ‘To say I am happy is an understatement.’
Khanyile lists this selection as among her top achievements, along with winning the Durban Youth Connect Innovative Business Competition in 2019, being selected as a Design Indaba Emerging Creative in 2020, and receiving a congratulatory email from UKZN Vice-Chancellor Professor Nana Poku in 2020 after she was selected as a Wonder Woman in Science.
Regarding the significance of her selection, Khanyile said: ‘As a Black woman who has to endure racism and sexism every day, I believe it will open more doors for people who look and sound like myself, it is telling us that we are greater than any and every adversity directed at us, it is saying we matter, we are enough and we are here to change everything we touch.
‘It is giving women who endure what I endure hope that in the end everything will be alright; what belongs to us will find us no matter what,’ she said.
More than 190 countries will participate in the Expo, themed: Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, with exhibitions arranged according to the themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity, as well as specific Expo initiatives and a programme for people and the planet. Under the sustainability theme there is a specific focus on product creation, which is where Khanyile will showcase her designs.
‘Our designs embody sustainability, and our exhibit will communicate the thought behind the design and the creative process as well as why specific materials were selected and incorporated into our designs,’ said Khanyile.
Featuring at the 2020 Design Indaba accelerated recognition of Khanyile’s brand and introduced her products to local and international customers, while the Indaba’s Emerging Creatives programme introduced Khanyile and Kembo to resources as well as institutions which supported them. The event also led to collaboration with other creatives working in the arts and crafts industries.
Afrikan Passion Designs has been featured in publications such as Forbes Africa, interviews on SAfm radio, and in articles in Sibizi Magazine, Isolezwe, CNA, YOCO, Eyethu Community Newspaper, UKZNdabaOnline, Bizcommunity and Twyg Magazine.
Balancing her studies and creative and business pursuits is no small task - Khanyile credits her mother Mrs Philisiwe Khanyile for teaching her skills including determination, self-discipline, independence and self-reliance that have guided her in her studies and business. If funding opportunities arise for further studies, Khanyile is considering proceeding to masters studies, and has further developments for Afrikan Passion Designs brewing that she will share on the company’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.
She thanked Design Indaba, the DSAC, her family, friends and her Creator, as well as her Afrikan Passion Designs customers for shaping her into who she is today.
Words: Christine Cuénod
Photographs: Milkshake Visuals