When Queens dare to Dream by Sibongile Shope.
Strolling down one of the most well-known streets of Cape Town, swept away by the Friday afternoon air, I stumbled across a gem. I was drawn to this clothing store dressed in an enticing protea mosaic design. Inside were Afro-chic garments laced with elegance and beaming with grace. I could not help but step into the Queendom that is Rea’Nubia.
I was warmly greeted by the owner Nolitha Qhuma, 28, who did not hesitate to give me a young glimpse into her vision. Inspired by her drive and talent, I felt the need to ever so kindly request some of her time and insight into her mind in an interview.
@SibongileShope: How did you come up with the name of your brand?
#NolithaQhuma: I always wanted to own a fashion business, but a big one. So, I wanted a name that would say what I wanted to say. I wanted a name that would celebrate Africa; what is, what was and what can be. One that is light but to the point.
I was looking for a name for the longest time and then a friend of mine came up with Rea Nubia and I was like Yas! It has a double meaning: Rea’ as in slang for real, so Real Nubia; and the Sesotho Re a as in We are Nubia. Both names represent African inspired clothing.
@Sibongile Shope: What are some of the challenges you encountered with establishing your brand?
#NolithaQhuma: Well, I was a student at the Cape Town College of Fashion Design, where I studied for one and a half years while working full-time washing dishes at Protea hotel. I was always late for work, which started at 15:30 but I would arrive at 16:00 because of school, and would knock off at 01:00. This was my life for one and a half years until I had to quit my job because I couldn’t do it anymore. I was always tired. As a result, I was kicked out of school because I couldn’t pay the fees.
Fast forward a bit, I ended up going to a more affordable school, Northlink College, where I studied clothing production. At first I was quite sceptical because I didn’t think it had the same prestige as Cape Town College of Fashion Design but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. Although I learned about the history of art, and fashion theory at the first school, which I enjoyed, Northlink was a blessing because it emphasised the more practical work, like sewing, so I learned a lot which helped me build my business.
@Sibongile Shope: What would you say inspires your creations?
#NolithaQhuma: My inspiration comes from so many sources, one of them is in the name. For me it symbolises all things African, and Africa is massive. It’s not just South Africa, or Cape Town, or Khayelitsha, the continent is rich.
I wanted my designs to be elegant. People often associate elegance with the western aesthetic but if you do your history you will understand that it is something they take for granted. Look at the Egyptians, from how they dressed to their make-up, you see that sophistication. Even in terms of our minerals, diamonds are here, gold is here. So, there is elegance all over Africa.
I’m inspired by historical figures, events, or even just people walking on the street. I’m influenced by fashion trends without being dictated by them. I offer abantu consciousness of what is happening around with my own flavour. Confidence is key, so I want to bring it out in my work.
The main thing is to have our own cash to help our people. We need to own. Power is ownership and partnership. My business, my brand, my vision will help me to do what I’m called to do: ukuncedisa abanye ‘bantu.–