Picture of Ticha Maenga taken by photographer Ingrid Du Toit
Written by: Victoria Lee
It was a quiet day during the COVID pandemic shut down. When Ticha decided to attend a fashion networking virtual call. Across the world I would join the same call. Neither of us at that time knew how much things would change in a matter of a year. The virtual call was broken out into groups, where 3-4 people would be in one room. Everyone went around and shared their backgrounds, business and why they were on the call, typical networking. Ticha and Victoria never ended up in a breakout room together, unfortunately.
So, you still may be wondering how that call brought us together. At the very end of the call Ticha decided to write down or capture everyone’s contact info provided in the chat box. She then took it upon herself to email or reach out to every single person’s info she gathered; dedication. Over the course of a few weeks, she would have finished her list. As we all know, some people respond to your messages, and most don’t. Well, I was one of them to respond to Ticha. Which led to a course of us speaking for 9 months back and forth learning about each other's businesses.
At the time, I was working on a business called UpRizing. The purpose of the business changed so many times during our 9-month talking, poor Ticha. However, she was patient supportive and enthusiastic during our talks, she knew I had a purpose. One day, I decided to take the leap into fashion; trying to bring to life some visions I had designed. Building up courage, I was nervous to ask Ticha for help but took the leap of faith anyway. She graciously accepted and nothing has ever been the same since. We started our design journey and manufacturing all at once. Which was a rollercoaster for us both to say the least. However, it was fun and daring, I have learned many things from her regarding the fashion industry and our journey together.
The one thing I can say I’ve learned from Ticha is: never give up, there is always a way to make your dreams happen and enjoy the ride!
To learn more on Ticha and why I chose her as a manufacturing partner, see the interview below:
Victoria: How did you get into fashion design & manufacturing?
Ticha: I’ve always loved fashion from my early childhood. I made my first very own dress at age 8 and in that same year I knitted a sweater for myself. Throughout the years I’ve continued to make pieces for myself. Then in my early adulthood I started making curtains along with clothes for friends and family. One day, my friend mentioned that I should consider making clothes to sell and that’s how I got into fashion design. With fashion design my goal is to ensure that every individual who wears my pieces feels comfortable, confident, and stylish. In order to spread the love, I then ventured into manufacturing.
Victoria: What does manufacturing entail for those who aren’t aware?
Ticha: After a designer approaches me with their design sketches. The first step is to ask them what types of fabrics they like which includes texture, quality, and colors. Then we outsource the fabrics available from suppliers. We then put together the fabric price range available and the price for design making aka pattern making. This will also include the price to make a sample.
Once the quotation is agreed upon the sample making process begins.
During the sample making process, we make a toil to see how the pattern looks when worn. If the toil sits well upon fitting, then we make the first sample piece. It is then sent to the fashion designer for the first fitting for any adjustments to be made. If there are no major adjustments during the fitting, then the final piece is made. In some cases, it may take up to three different sample pieces to be made until the final piece is sewn.
All this depends on the garment design and how many times the designer would like to adjust. Especially if they feel that the design came out as envisioned but does not look appealing.
Once the sampling process is complete then we dive into batch manufacturing. Our batches start from a minimum of 25 per design. However, the numbers can also be adjusted depending on the pattern of the garment. “We have no cookie cutter formula”, Ticha said with a laugh. In terms of minimums, it all depends on the contract arrangement.
Once batches are complete, then they are then shipped to the customer.
Victoria: What is the most important thing you’ve learned while being in the fashion industry?
Ticha: There are always challenges to face. However, if you have a goal and a vision, this helps to overcome the challenges. I try not to see challenges as stumbling blocks but rather use them as steppingstones to lead me to my next goal.
Victoria: What is your ultimate dream for your business?
Ticha: My dream is to run a manufacturing company separate from my own fashion brand name (Diana Gladioli). In the end the factory should stand alone whilst simultaneously running a clothing store for my fashion brand.
Victoria: How does being in South Africa give you a different perspective on fashion vs American fashion?
Ticha: In South Africa we are considered the rainbow nation. Meaning we have people from all various cultures and backgrounds. Throughout the years it has become a melting pot of fashion. Where the experimentation of trying different cultural fashion, has become the norm. So, in that sense our fashion is very open minded and welcoming of other cultures designs.
Victoria: Who have you admired most within your industry and why?
Ticha: I'm inspired by Randy Fenoli. His ability to dress any body type amazes me. He can comfortably push someone out of their comfort zone. Which helps his customers discover the various ways they can achieve a beautiful look in different dress types. While taking their budget into consideration.
Victoria: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Ticha: Italy! I love their food, fashion and countryside. It would be an honour to experience all that.
Ticha ended that last question with a smile and giggle as her look went into a daydream. Ticha is a big dreamer with many goals to accomplish. She is just as big on purpose, family and adventure. Know if you decide to do the South African style manufacturing, you will receive all three of those traits.
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