Paidemoyo Mazhandu, Designer of Zimbabwean-birthed Fashion Line DEMOYO Shares Her Story
In our quest to keep the inspirational juice coming, Quintessential F was incredibly blessed to sit down with International Fashion Designer – Paidemoyo Chideya of DeMoyo, our very own Zimbabwean sister who has not only broken boundaries in the fashion world as one of Africa’s upcoming designers to watch, but took the bold step to move back to Zimbabwe after 23 years of living abroad – to make all things DeMoyo happen on and from home ground. With her line now sold also from Truworth’s stores (yeap – that’s a big deal!!) we hope her words shape your understanding of the notion of “all things are possible” as they have done for us. Enjoy…
Tell us, who is Paidemoyo Chideya Mazhandu?
She is a little spark of the Creator encased in a person called Paidemoyo Chideya Mazhandu.
Take us through a day in the life of Paidemoyo Chideya at DeMoyo?
A typical day starts at 5:30am. The rest of the day with variance, will comprise of fabric shopping, designing, sketching, invoicing, meeting with my tailors, adjusting clothes and working on the next collection, cleaning my house, computer work and developing my ideas further. I try and shut down by 6pm, so I can have family time with my husband.
Where does your design mind draw inspiration?
It can be anything from God, to my mother, to “prowess” (a recent season of mine), to my colour of the moment, to trees, to my mood – anything.
Who is God in your life?
God is everything. Without God, I do not exist.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge as a designer to date and how have you overcome it?
Challenges come up everyday. The biggest challenge if I was to be more specific was probably proving to myself that I could actually become exactly what I wanted to become. Many people told me that I didn’t have what it took to do what I do. I overcame it by believing in myself and staying extremely focused on my goal, and doing just a little bit everyday.
You are a citizen of the world having lived in some of the world’s fashion capitals (London, New York, Paris) what made you come back to Zimbabwe?
You can live in all the countries in the world, but you only have one home. It was time to come back to my roots after 23 years.
Who is your support system?
God, my husband and my mother, and when he was still alive my father as well. That being said, my brother is also my biggest supporter. They know how challenging this work is and they still push me to be better, to fight harder and to keep going.
At what point in your life did you know that being a designer is what you were called to do?
It was a specific moment, in my first year of college at Parsons School of Design, when I attended my very first fashion show in Paris, and it was a Valentino show in 1997. #lifechanging for me. It was then, that I knew.
A big congratulations – cue happy dance on your behalf as the DeMoyo line is now available in Truworths. What does this milestone mean to you?
Thank you very much. When I started DeMOYO, I did so with the intention of creating a vertically integrated system that would stem from Zimbabwe, were we grow the cotton, make the fabric, create jobs particularly for women and the girl child and produce local goods for the nation and also for export. Our nation has been inundated with cheap Chinese goods, and this has created a vacuum and a massive problem in our manufacturing industry, where Zimbabwe was a leader in this sector. It’s very important that we address these issues immediately, otherwise our children will suffer much more than we are locally. Working with Truworths, has given me hope and had opened a window that’s allowing the consumer to focus on the local market- even if its just a little bit… but it’s a start.
You have worked with some well recognised designers – Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors. What would you say are the three lessons you learnt from these designers that has influenced your work ethic and how you approach your designs?
1) Dreams come true. 2) Stay true to your vision and what you want to say to the world. 3) You can become the highest paid fashion associate in the world….if you want to.
From your long list of achievements including a show room in the Vera Wang building in New York to name a few, what would you say is your greatest achievement?
Hard question: On a very personal note, it’s the idea that I can wake up everyday and do what I want to do. Most people don’t have that privilege, but I have been blessed enough to do what I want to do. Of course, there are events, shows, awards, etc., but those are perks – they are moments. Even though its work, I get to play all day.
How do you maintain a balance with the many hats you wear?
I have to create healthy boundaries, because if it were up to me, I would be working 24/7. But I have a family now, so I have to draw a line on a daily basis, and make sure that its all flowing.
We at QF love how you are conscious about sustainable development in your designs. How have you incorporated this eco consciousness in the DeMoyo line for Truworths, Zimbabwe
Well, it starts off with simple things like using fabrics that are as natural as possible, that are not over processed, and that have as little chemicals as possible. This is not so easy these days because organic fabrics, for example in this environment are hard to come by. But it also boils down to the person that’s sewing the garment – what are their working conditions? Have they been paid well? How am I supporting their wellbeing?
What advice would you give to women out there who have put their dreams on the back burner?
Well, you don’t want to wake up with regrets. It’s very important for a woman to ensure that her joy comes first. When she does that, she can be 1000 times better, because she’s giving to herself through her dreams. It’s a massive gift from God that we tend to take for granted, or perhaps we don’t understand. We also have a responsibility to follow our dreams, that’s the whole point of being alive.
When you aren’t choosing fabrics and perfecting your sketches what do you to relax and pamper yourself?
Hanging out with my boo. LOL. I love live music, I love to read, I love to cook, and a massage here and there never hurts.
What pearls of wisdom has your mother given you that you apply to your life today?
Mom would always say as I grew up, “Your best is good enough for us” – so whatever grade for example that I got at school, as long as it was my best, it was perfect. I apply that everyday with my work and with what I do. As long as it’s my best it’s good enough. So you can imagine, I push quite hard, because I have to do my best. But when I fail, and I do everyday at something, it provides me with an opportunity to grow, develop and evolve.
What do you love most about being based in Zimbabwe right now?
I’m home. My family is here, the food is organic and the sky is the limit.
Where do you see DeMoyo in ten years?
Flagship stores across the world 🙂