Soothing the ruffled feathers of a performer about to go on stage or reassuring a nervous bride-to-be that her make-up is in fact flawless is all in a day’s work for calm and collected wife and mum of two, Elsabé Steyn.
Having originally studied psychology, Elsabé was given the opportunity to further her studies through her employer, gaining a BA degree in environmental management, but her
true talents lie in a somewhat different field. “Fashion has always been a love of mine,” she smiles.
“My mother used to make me beautiful dresses, and I guess this is where my love of fabric and textiles began. My knowledge of styling grew over the years and I gained a lot of experience, especially after competing in Miss South Africa, and being a finalist twice, in 1998 and 2002. After this, I started to help other girls to do their styling for pageants, and I also helped them with the design of their unique outfits for events.” Elsabé says the creative part of working with fabric is what makes her tick.
“Being able to take a plain, unadorned piece of fabric and create something beautiful that somebody loves is what I love the most,” she says. The resourceful seamstress has also recently started up her own swimwear line, called Finleigh, which focuses on classic, elegant pieces that are suitable for various body shapes.
Apart from clothing and fashion, Elsabé is a qualified make-up artist, something she uses to her client’s advantage. Her styling studio focuses on prepping for photo shoots, and apart from renting out her beautiful, handmade dresses for occasions such as maternities, engagements, friendship, matric farewells and so on, she also does professional make-up. “It completes the look,” she smiles, adding that she believes all women are beautiful in their own way, with or without make-up.
Naturally creative, she likes to paint in her spare time. She loves both sides of what she does, the clothing design as well as the make-up, as it’s the creative sides of these that interest her, whether designing a beautiful dress or enhancing a beautiful face. Her inspiration for her dresses comes from the colours and textures of the fabric she sees.
Another source of inspiration is the beautiful Lowveld, which both Elsabé and her husband love. Originally from Middelburg, they made the move here for work opportunities and haven’t looked back. “The Lowveld has always been very special to us,” she explains, “so living here is a bonus. One of the things we love most is being surrounded by nature and being so close to the bush. I have to admit though, the summer temperatures are still a bit of a challenge at times … But we love it here!”
Elsabé first met her husband, Bertus, 12 years ago when they were introduced to each other at a formal gathering. He was living in the UK at the time, and had returned to SA to visit family. It was only after Bertus came back to South Africa in 2013 and they met up again that they realised they were meant to be. “I guess the time just wasn’t right before then,” she muses. The couple have two children, a daughter, Shawnté (6), and son, Teaghan (5).
“We are very close, and love nothing more than spending time with our kids. We love good conversations filled with joy, laughter and good humour,” Elsabé smiles. Her children are always at the forefront of her future plans. “My dream is to make sure they have the best possible opportunities in life. I love seeing them grow and develop, and as a mother, my first priority is helping them reach their own dreams and aspirations.”
She also sets challenges for herself, some of which she reaches and other not. “Sometimes,” she laughs, “I have to start over and build a new dream. But those are the visions that keep me going, and keep me motivated. My dream for myself is to grow as an individual, and my vision is to diversify as much as possible, to develop a unique brand to which people can relate and trust.” If her beautiful dresses and flawless make-up application are anything to go by, we believe the sky is the limit for this resourceful young
Photographer: ZANJE FAURE