Determined to redefine comfortably elegant clothes for women with a fuller figure, two young women – Ouma Tema and Boitumelo Ndaba – saw the need to stop trying to fit in but stand out and step out in their fullness.
Limpopo-born Ouma Tema is a public management graduate turned creative director and founder of popular plus-size fashion brand Plus-Fab – and she admits to having started from the frustrations which she faced when having to shop for herself.
“Shopping would be a nightmare. I found what I wanted but never in my size,” she says
Everything in her size had grandma written all over them. But when life gave the business woman lemons, she decided to make lemonade.
“Issues faced by plus-size women are the same I am faced with. They can relate to me on a real basis. I create clothes that are timeless and very flattering,” she says.
Tema started making her own clothes and sharing it on social media where friends and fellow plus-size ladies kept on asking where she got all the clothes – as well as sharing their shopping frustrations.
She saw the gap in the market and launched her own fashion brand, targeting plus-size women. Her mission is to challenge the stereotype concept that curves have no place in the fashion industry.
From operating out of the boot of her car and garage, Plus-Fab today has a fully fledged production factory employing 16 people. It sells through one of SA’s mainstream online stores, Spree, and the fastest growing retail chain, The Space, countrywide.
For Boitumelo Ndaba, her journey to launching Tuku Affair began in 2015 when she sought a way to empower women to be proud of who they are and the traditions of African culture.
“It started off as a brand selling just African print head wraps sourced from neighbouring country Mozambique.
“I later added handmade African Print Accessories to the products,” Ndaba says.
Picking up from its success over the years, the brand found itself exploring corporate gifts for corporate businesses such as Joburg City Parks and Zoo and Southgate Mall.
Ndaba found her inspiration from women who were fascinated with wearing her head wraps.
In realising that most women thought head wrapping was just for religious purposes, a bad hair day or special occasions, this entrepreneur set out to change the narrative, and show women that head wrapping can be an everyday thing.
“I always thought head-wrapping was a simple part of being African,” she says.