Malawian fashionprenuer Lilly Alfonso grooms grassroot talents

Renowned Malawian fashion brand, Lilly Alfonso is using creativity and experience to groom a new generation of creative and innovate youthful fashion designers.

Lilly Alfonso 100 year plan class in session
Lilly Alfonso: A leading light on the Malawian fashion scene
Aspiring designers showing her sketches
Building a fashion brand with a unique personality, great style appeal: Lilly Afonso students sketches

Through the “Lilly Alfonso 100 year plan”, the initiative seeks to reach out to youngsters and effect mindset change to unlock their potential.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, talented designer and entrepreneurLilly Alfonso revealed that the trainings are free of charge, saying one simply has to visit Lilly Alfonso shop and show interest.

“Lilly Alfonso brand came up with a 100 year plan initiative to inspire, educate, support and motivate young passionate individuals focusing on personal development, talent and skills discovery and entrepreneurship.

“We need to start investing in the youths. These are the ones with the brains which will bring a definition of Malawi wear. We can’t be talking about identity if overlook sustainability,” explained Lilly Alfonso who also graced the cover of Entrepreneurs Recipe 2017 edition.

She further emphasized on the need to give room to youngsters to practise and experiment.

“If we support these young people, they will explore and win.

“It’s not just about sewing clothes. You need to protect your brand by registering. Branding is important because is shows uniqueness. Talking to people, making connections and finding markets are important in any business,” Lilly added.

She then downplayed the “Pull Her Down” syndrome, calling on Malawians to unite, support and protect each other.

Lilly explained: “As a people, we focus much on competition and pulling each other down rather than supporting and investing in young people. We are too lazy to think. We opt for what society views us than chasing our dreams.”

Through the training program, three of her students namely Mphatso Chisale, Bruce Marewere and Faida have so far showcased at Eco Fashion Week in Australia where they were rated highly.

Now on its second year, the eco-focused event expanded to the opposite sides of Australia took place in Queensland from the 4th – 10th November as well as in Western Australia from the 15th – 21st November.

On her part, Mphatso Chisale bemoaned lack of markets and electricity blackouts as major challenges in Malawi fashion industry.

“We have to deal with second hand markets as an alternative to fashion produced locally and ones that are committed to celebrating African fabric. Fabric and tailoring labour is expensive. There is very little fabric produced locally,” the 19 year old Mphatso said.

17 year old Wongani Mkandawire spoke highly of the Lilly Alfonso 100 year plan, saying it has motivated her to pursue a career in fashion.

“I want to study business management and designing. I want to start my own fashion business because I have always been passionate about fashion and Lilly Alfonso has inspired me. This is the first step towards achieving my dreams,” she explained.

She added: “The training has also taught me about personal growth and development. I have been taught values of respect, unity, humbleness, humidity, love and dignity through colours. Lilly has taught me to realize that success also comes from other people.”

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