Her Hustle is real

About a month ago, I ran a competition with Her Apparel. Sheeeeyit, time flies – I better say Merry Christmas now before that just casually passes by too! And happy birthday.. And Happy Easter.. Hell, let’s just go with happy lifetime, just so I have my bases covered.

My nickname should be the walking tangent. Is there some sort of medication to help one stay on track? Oh, yes, there totally is.. But let’s not go there in case my musings turn out to be kind of serious (*cough* attention deficit)…

As I was saying, the competition asked people to dob in one of their inspiring friends. I was so excited about this, because when you open up the conversation lines in a way that requires people to be selfless, you always get the most awesome things back.

After reading the submissions, and shedding a few tears of humble pride (I felt like I knew everybody!), myself, and Bethany and Rebecca from Her, decided on a winner. Now, if you did enter and didn’t win, prepare yourselves, ‘cause I’m about to pull a classic HR move.. Ahem:

Dear applicant,

Given the extremely high calibre of submissions received, selecting a winning candidate was not an easy task. Unfortunately, we could only choose one person, and we are sorry that on this occasion, your entry was not successful. We will, however, keep your entry on file, and bear you in mind for any suitable opportunities that may arise with Monday Hustle/Her Apparel in the future.

Man, I’m such a dick! How can people do that every day! I’m sorry if you entered and didn’t win. Everybody deserved to win. You took the time to express your deepest wonderment about someone close to you, and that is AWESOME!! Be seriously proud of yourselves, and remember to tell people that you love them every day. I actually will keep all entries on file, because it’s so great to know who’s out there doing incredible things! You never know when you may receive a random email from the Monday Hustler..

Anyway, of course, there was one winner, and that person was Vanessa Umugabekazi who dobbed in her friend Makanaka Tuwe. What makes Maka so inspiring? Funny you ask! Read on..

I met Maka at a bustling, energetic, cafe in central Auckland, which turned out to be an extremely fitting location. Before this meeting, I considered myself a pretty energetic, enthusiastic and driven individual.. But Maka totally puts me to shame!!! She entered the cafe bursting with energy, fun, confidence and zest – the kind of zest I can only achieve after seventeen coffees and two No-Doz tablets. I feel like I heard her before I saw her, which must be testament to the exuberant passion she wears metaphorically, and also literally on her sleeve (check out her amazing sleeves in the pic!).

Maka works in digital communication at Unitec Institute of Technology. She studied PR, and is currently working on her International Communications masters paper (just a couple of weeks to go, yay!). Her education and work experience have shaped and fine-tuned the way she interacts with the world – by using digital platforms to connect, inspire and advocate for change, growth and awareness.Maka 1

Maka is 22. She moved to New Zealand from Zimbabwe, and a couple of years ago (at just 19!), Maka noticed that something very dear to her heart and culture was missing in New Zealand. She realized that African Fashion was underrepresented in the current market.

Now instead of sitting back and letting that realization pass her by, she did something about it almost instantly. After waking up her then boyfriend at 4am to tell him about the idea, she arose the next morning, jumped straight on to her computer and got to work. She briefed in potential designers, sent enquiries to venues, got on the hunt for sponsorship.. And somehow, in-between her PR degree, Maka managed to pull together Africa On My Sleeve – the first African inspired fashion show which showcased in New Zealand, and was the first of its kind in both Australia and New Zealand.

You may remember a quote I posted on Insty a while ago which read: “Sometimes, you just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down”.. And as I was chatting to Maka, that quote leaped clearly in to mind. This girl is not one to procrastinate, or let her ideas pass her by!

At the moment, just you know, between working her full time job and studying for her masters degree, Maka is looking to facilitate fair trade partnerships between New Zealand based fashion designers, and African tribes to in an effort to not just create beautiful garments, but to create livelihoods, and preserve traditional African craft.

Even though after reading this, it’s pretty clear to see why Maka deserves some recognition, I asked Vanessa why she decided to put Maka forward. Her response was simple. Maka is someone who gives others a voice, through fashion, through her blog, and through the way she totally lives her vision. In Vanessa’s own words, ‘she is someone that influences you to turn your wildest dreams in to a reality, and will always be there to support you’.

Maka is fabulous. She is driven, strong but open-minded, a passionate advocate for women, and she totally embodies what it is to be a hustler. I cannot wait to see how this amazing woman grows, and incites even more positive change than she already has.

Do you know someone who deserves a bit of recognition? Do you, yourself have an awesome story to tell? Either way, I’d love to be in the know!! Unfortunately, I don’t have lingerie on offer this time (unless you want some old grannie-panties.. Reow), but am always keen to see who else is out there, hustling along with me. Who knows, maybe we can create something awesome together. Either way, let’s drink wine.


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