- Kgahlego Pitsi Kewana originally qualified as a medical doctor, before she decided to follow her dream
- She quit her job at a hospital and enrolled in fashion school
- She aims to build her fashion label into a thriving business to create employment for others
Kgahlego Pitsi Kewana has always loved fashion, but her parents urged her to qualify in a profession.
She chose medicine, as she'd grown up with her mother at a medical campus residence, and thought she would enjoy being a doctor.
Kewana believes her time at the campus with her mother influenced her love of fashion.
“I think something about spending time with all these amazing black women, who were both glamorous and stylish, ignited the love for fashion early in my life,” she said.
“My biological father passed on when I was about a year old and my mom remarried when I was five, thereafter we moved to Midrand where we stayed until I was 12. My father had an incredibly positive impact on my childhood. I remember a period when my mom had to work in Venda and he had to look after us alone, during that time he would push us to follow our passions.
“My cousin and I were into beauty pageants, I designed the outfits and my dad made sure they got made well so we didn’t miss a single event,” Kewana added.
Briefly.co.za learned Kewana graduated from UCT in 2010, after which she practised for four years, starting as an intern at a government hospital in Polokwane.
She proceeded to do community service at Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg.
Kewana had always wanted to be a fashion designer but her parents encouraged her to do something more “academic” with the certainty of a job and financial security.
“I have always wanted to be a fashion designer. I remember watching Titanic when it first came out and being mesmerised by the dresses and gowns. It was like a light switched on inside me.
“When I was younger, I used to play at making dresses for my dolls but after watching that movie I then started sketching. I produced design after design, and before I knew it, I became the go-to person for fashion advice in my family,” Kewana said.
Working at the hospital made her realise that unemployment was a large cause of illness, as poverty led to poor housing, sanitation, nutrition and healthcare. She realised that being a fashion entrepreneur may help towards solving the problem.
“It registered that by having a thriving fashion label I could provide jobs, and possibly have more impact in helping people by giving them something that could help them better their lives. That’s when I finally racked up the courage to follow my first love. I quit my job, enrolled in fashion school and haven’t looked back since,” she said.
Last year, she launched her brand which is called Doctored. It specialises in high-end ready-to-wear garments for the fashion forward professionals.
“I love pattern-making, and I infuse that thinking into the brand. With every item I’m always thinking of ways to push the boundaries and create something that is both wearable and unique.
“Our focus is on womenswear, creating garments that can be worn to the office and out on the town. The name Doctored speaks to that idea of ‘doctoring’ something up - creating something new that is uniquely engineered, innovative and creative,” Kewana added.
She further explained that she loves designing because it allows her to carry out her purpose with passion.
“I love the artistic aspect of fashion, that an item of clothing can share a story, and is in itself a story - weaved by everyone involved in making the piece come to life.
“I also think what I love most is the number of people whose lives can be touched by an idea: from the designer, to textile weaver, to the pattern maker, to seamstress, to the shop assistant, retailer and, finally, the person who wears it. It gives me joy to know that by doing something I enjoy I have the potential to have an impact on so many people’s lives,” she said.
She draws inspiration from Clive Rundle, Loza Maleombho, and Thom Browne.
Kewana's goal is ultimately to create a thriving design business, employing more designers and impacting positively on society.
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