Picking up the thread of creativity restored the happiness of this hat-maker
Nozipho Magwaza had had enough. Working as a cashier made her unhappy, and Magwaza knew she had more to offer. There was something telling her she needed to create. She had big dreams – of colourful material and stylish outfits, of making people feel proud of the clothes they wore. So Magwaza left her job, and picked up a thread that had been woven through her family for generations.
When Magwaza was younger, her mother’s love of fashion nurtured her creative instinct, while her grandmother taught her to sew. Taking her skills to a fashion academy, Magwaza started designing clothing. When one of her creations needed something to make it pop, Magwaza made a hat that completed the outfit, and felt a rush of excitement. It launched her interest in a career as a milliner. Magwaza found support from a group of women who walked tall and were always clothed with dignity: the ladies from church. “They always make me think of my mother,” she says. “I’m reminded of going to church as a young girl with my family.” Today, Magwaza doesn’t just make hats for these women, but has created a thriving business. Zipho Creations specialises in fascinators for the Durban July, where her designs never fail to turn style on its head.
Though she’s achieved success, it’s still the everyday interactions with the women in her store that bring Magwaza the most joy. “I see my mother and my grandmother’s smiles in everyone who puts on these hats,” she says. Although they are no longer with her, Magwaza knows her family would be proud. Her craft is a continuation of their creative legacy, and keeps them close to her heart. “Hats restored my happiness,” Magwaza says. They’re also helping South Africans hold their heads up high.