Photo credit: Grace Bampile
Gracia Bampile, has been designing clothes since she was 10. Gracia is a self-taught fashion designer who has managed to master the art of creating great African print fashion pieces. Her designs have caught the attention of trendsetters in the industry such as: Mihlali Ndamase, Boity Thulo, Ancillar Mangena, Maps Maponyane, Oros Mampofu and more.
With only 5 years of establishment, this brand has earnedr a nomination for the online retail platform of the year 2019 at the African Fashion industry awards and an award for the SABC Trailblazer award 2019. Haute Afrika is an iconic fashion brand in South Africa that believes that style should be thought-provoking. Haute Afrika embodies modern culture while celebrating our African heritage. Consequently, empowering confidence, evoking dialogue on topics and promoting Africanism.
In this interview with Leading Ladies Africa, Haute Afrika CEO, Gracia speaks on entrepreneurship as well as the pain points of being a fashion entrepreneur in South Africa, especially during this time of uncertainty, Scroll down to read.
An introduction to who Gracia Bampile is?
I started designing clothes since the tender age of 10 years old. I have an International Relations degree and I am a self-taught fashion designer who has managed to master the art of creating one of a kind African print fashion pieces. My designs have caught the attention of trendsetters in the South African industry as well as internationally.
Background story and Inspiration to Founding “Haute Afrika”, what inspired the name and what It’s all about?
I knew I was doing something right when i would design and make clothes and people would want to buy clothes off my back. This was shocking to me because I had never really thought about going into the fashion business, I loved making clothes but I didn’t think people would pay good money to buy my designs. So, in my 3rd year at university, I decided to start.
When I decided I was going to do this, I decided on the name Haute Afrika because, Haute mean height and I wanted to make thing that made people feel elevated by just being African and wearing African inspired designs.
How do you handle running your business successfully in this social clime and what is your mission?
I would love to say it isn’t stressful but I think having a passion for something really makes it all worth it at the end of the day. This social climate is actually very receptive to African designs, We get client from all over the world in life Europe. I think the main challenge here was switching perception in South Africa and the rest of the world that African print clothing is for just special occasions. We try to put a modern twist into our designs and to also make them season friendly as well as occasion friendly. We even have a corporate collection. Our overall mission is celebrating our African heritage. Consequently, empowering confidence, evoking dialogue on topics and promoting Africanism.
How do you stay innovative especially in a creative industry like yours?
Innovation is constantly doing things better than what you have done before or what is available in the market. There is a constant pressure to be innovative especially in the world we live in today, one thing that has worked for me is digging deep, exposing myself to new ideas and just generally being open to new ideas.
Your Plans for ” Haute Afrika” In Five Years?
Africa to the world!
Challenges on your journey and Lessons that you wish you had known before?
Coming into the fashion industry wasn’t a long-term plan of mine. It kind of chose me and in the beginning I didn’t know certain tricks of the trade that cost me a lot of time and money but I think some of those things came with experience so I think the main challenge was allowing myself to fail at certain things! In the beginning this would make me so sad and angry but as my business has grown, I’ve seen how those adversities have been transformed into opportunities.
Upcoming projects and what you hope to achieve?
I’m so excited about our summer collection which will be launching in August/September which is when the South African summer season starts. I’m so happy to share this with the world, it will be mind blowing.
Tips on how you handle when the going gets tough?
First of all PRAYER! This is literally what gives me strength to keep pushing and to keep at it! Another thing is perseverance-the only way out of difficult situations is through it. You’ll come out a better person. Trust the process.
Can you share some entrepreneurship secrets to those who are reading this right now?
My main tip would be self-belief! You need to believe in whatever idea you have. Don’t get swayed by what’s happening out there! I’ve heard a lot people say “ohh the market it too saturated” but people in that market have never done it the way you would do. Your superpower is You! Never forget that.
What has been the highlight since you started Haute Afrika?
I would say my nomination for the online retail platform of the year 2019 at the African Fashion industry awards and an award for the SABC Trailblazer award 2019.
The Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.