Sidumisile Mlotshwa got in touch with us recently to share news about her new brand Makeda - a label that celebrates women as queens - and we love it. Inspired by African queens, Makeda is still in its early days but we're looking forward to see where Sid takes it. Here she tells us about getting started and some of her favourite queens.
Tell us a little about you and Makeda - What is Makeda? How did you come to start the brand?
My name is Sidumisile Mlotshwa, i am a 23 year old mother, web editor and owner of MakedaCo. Makeda is my start up lifestyle brand that sells clothing and accessories that are a celebration of women as queens. I started it because i felt i couldn’t find products that stand for what i like. There are many clothing brands with empowering statements and i wanted to add to that for females by incorporating imagery that i found to be empowering. And that is how Makeda came out, I initially started with tote bags at first but i love a good statement sweatshirt/ jumper so i decided to make my ideal jumpers with this imagery as well.
Where did the idea of queens come from?
The whole idea behind Makeda was to incorporate missing stories that we aren’t always told. And I felt that when it comes to African Queens in particular we only ever hear about Egyptian ones. Which isn’t a bad thing, I’m not trying to take away from that, I only want to add on. I also wanted to show the other Queens that don’t always get celebrated, and that didn’t necessarily always have to be queens in the monarchy way; but strong women who paved the way.
Who are your top favourite queens? Old or new?
For obvious reasons i would say Makeda, her thirst for knowledge and the way historians have described her is inspiring to me. Whilst reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi I came across a mention of Yaa Asantewaa so i looked more into her and did some research. The bravery she showed is amazing.
For the new queen I would say Solange, for me i think she has played a big part in bringing about the Blackgirlmagic movement and really encouraging women to speak about their experiences and embracing themselves.
What was the inspiration for the design? Who did the illustrations?
For the designs i just thought of imagery that i would like on products and i went with that. For example the Ndebele queen thats on the tote, i had many photographs of cultural clothing that i spoke to the illustrator about and he worked to change them into what i had in mind. For the Afro Queen that is on the grey sweater i spoke to him about the image i had in my head of a modern day black queen, how she wears her hair etc, then i took inspiration from traditional Zulu clothing for the leopard print cover up.
I work with @lorenzo.design who i found on instagram last year and he always understands the image i have in my head even though we mostly communicate on email.
What's next for Makeda?
The target for the next 5 years is get more of my sweatshirt designs out there and collaborate with other illustrators as well as launching some limited edition jewellery made in KwaZulu Natal. I would will also be doing a ‘Queens corner’ section on the website that will showcase bits of history about inspiring women and also information about modern day women who are also doing well in different parts of life.
I can see from your blog you're a keen reader! Any books to recommend to us?
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is the book that i will recommend to anyone who will listen. But i’ve also enjoyed The thing around your neck by C Ngozi, Difficult women by R Gay (current read) and Rotten Row by P Gappah. These are especial good for those who can’t get into novels so each short story brings something new.
What would you like to read about in the next issue of Riposte?
Riposte covers a good spectrum of topics especially those that affect women on a daily basis. I think for me book reviews would be great as I am fast running out of titles to read.