Trendsetter and designer. Entrepreneur and traveller. And a loving mother. These are the many hats of Sandi Mazibuko.
Sandi Mazibuko is a fashion force. Her second store, House of Fabrosanz, recently opened at the Mall of Africa, boasting all the current custom Fabrosanz designs, as well as an FRS menswear collection.
Fabrosanz is a leading African brand that showcases the diversity of African cultures with quality, ready-to-wear clothing that is luxurious and authentic. Sandi, the fashion designer and entrepreneur behind the brand, shows no sign of slowing down.
So where did all of this inspiration come from? ‘I grew up surrounded by women who adored fashion with the fashion conversation flowing from everyone, especially my aunt who made all her event outfits,’ Sandi says.
‘She would create multiple versions of traditional garments to wear at local events and never wanted to look like anyone else who was attending. Little did I know how much she would influence my journey later in life.’
Her inspiration doesn’t stop there. ‘I am Zulu, so I wanted to create prints that showcase my culture while still being fashionable.
‘I have been using African print for years now and something was missing as I didn’t know the story of the prints I was using. I felt like that needed to change so I started creating prints inspired by culture, a print that South Africans can relate to and are able to take to the world.’
This ethos resonates with her customers – the support for the new store has been overwhelming. ‘It’s such a beautiful time that we live in, to see people loving and proud to wear local brands.’
She makes it look easy but building up her brand has taken a lot of hard work, and it even started out as a side hustle. ‘I started [this business] while I was working full time as an executive assistant. The business started from my spare room. I hired a seamstress to help me with orders while I was at work. She would come in the morning and I would brief her before going to work. Then I would use my lunchtime and weekends to source fabrics and meet with clients.’
These foundations laid the framework for Sandi’s entrepreneurial prowess. ‘I am very hands-on in my business. You can put me in any department and I would be able to do the job. I believe in doing something that I’m passionate about so I can give it my all.’
Covid-19 naturally impacted her business. ‘The beginning of lockdown was tough as we couldn’t work much and I had to let go of a few staff members. Thanks to our loyal customers, business started picking up again from Level 3. The team was able to come back to work and the business has grown even more as more people started to shop online and we even had the demand to open a Johannesburg store.’
Working this hard could mean burnout, so Sandi is cautious in preventing it. ‘I love my me time, even if it’s just slowing down and working from home. I also meditate in the mornings, and work out as well.’
And, of course, there’s her love of travel. ‘Every time I feel overwhelmed with work, I travel just to clear my head and refocus. I would like to visit more African countries with Senegal and Ghana being at the top of the list.’
She also tries to prioritise family time but is still realistic about the demands of entrepreneurship. ‘I’m not sure I have mastered [a work-life balance] as my work is too demanding. Travelling helps. I plan trips with family, my partner and sometimes with friends to reconnect and catch up but I do spend most of my time working. Hard work and prayer have helped me to get where I am today, so I hope my children learn from that. They must never feel entitled to anything they didn’t work for.’
Details: To see the stylish fruits of Sandi’s hard work, head to houseoffabrosanz.com to update your wardrobe or follow Sandi on Instagram: @sandimazibuko
Sandi’s seasonal styling tips
Sport-lux/athleisure: This trend is here to stay and it’s so easy to pull off in winter. You can dress it up too. You don’t have to wear tracksuits with just sneakers alone. Add a blouse under your sweater and a blazer, then dress it up with block heels for comfort.
Layering: Don’t put all your summer clothes away. Instead, try to style them with your winter jackets by layering. Winter doesn’t have to be dull.
Blazers: Staple print blazers are a must-have for all seasons.
Bold print scarves and ponchos: Go for a solid colour and make a statement or opt for a bold print scarf and poncho. Add a fedora hat and you’re good to go!
* Text: Tayla Blaire. Photographer: Siyanda Mazibuko.