Shingai Nyagweta is the Artistic Director and CEO of KuNa Clothing, an artistic clothing brand with an African twist for children aged from birth to ten years.
The name KuNa is the nickname of her little niece KuNashe, a Shona expression for ‘God is Present’.
Nyagweta says that she started making children clothes for her niece and she would come back home with requests from her friends at school which inspired her to start the brand.
Tragically, in 2013, little Kunashe died. After the death of her niece, Nyagweta decided that her legacy needed to live on and continued using her name.
Nyagweta started her own business in December 2009 after working at Foschini and then under the watchful eye of a South African designer Marianne Fassler.
She says finding the gap in the market was not difficult because children’s wear was too Europeanised and had nothing that spoke to a modern African child.
Since the brand came out, people who had been looking for that kind of clothing were automatically drawn to it.— Shingai Nyagweta, KuNa Designs
In 2009 online shopping had not been popular in South Africa, Nyagweta sold her clothing range in the streets, selling at various markets and hosting pop up shops. She says customers who bought KuNa at markets and pop up shops began shopping online too.
I was quiet naïve when I started. I built an online store in 2009 and no one was selling online at the time— Shingai Nyagweta, KuNa designs
Having started a company in the midst of a worldwide recession, for Nyagweta it looked like she was going to have to close her doors but she remained persistent.
Nyagweta says KuNa clothing is growing into a lifestyle brand and has launched a new baby range, KuNa Baby, and KuNa Boys Range, alongside her KuNa Kids brand.
Listen to the full conversation on The Redi Tlhabi Show: