Woolworths prides themselves in spearheading collaborations that are rooted in innovation, community and creativity. In holding that position at the forefront of fashion, the brand collaborated with Papama Mtwisha who centres around self-awareness, inspiration, and truly making a difference in the world we share.
For almost two decades, Papama has been at the forefront of South African fashion while forging a multi-dimensional career fuelled by pure passion and a deep sense of purpose. Having qualified in fashion design, Papama cut her teeth as a fashion and beauty editor for various publications while racking up credits for her work on TV shows, award-winning music videos and other collaborative projects. She’s been invited to speak at several conferences and has sat on judging panels for SA Fashion Week, AFI Joburg Fashion Week to name a few.
In our recent interview with the creative we spoke about her latest collaboration with Woolworths and what it means to her as an activist, her successful 'Africa Your Time Is Now' brand and the advice she has for upcoming creatives.
GLAMOUR: Take us through your collaboration with Woolworths? How did it come about?
Papama: Woolworths and I have had a long-standing relationship. After they witnessed the success of Africa Your Time Is Now movement, and when they conceptualised the Catch the Feels campaign last year, I was one of the designers they asked to come up with an interpretation of it. We started engaging exactly a year ago, (November 2019), and to have launched it now, when the world is going through what it’s going through, is so appropriate. I think the timing is perfect.
GLAMOUR: You have created a very successful brand with your T-shirt being sold in other parts of the world. How has that been like?
Papama: The slogan, ‘Africa Your Time Is Now’, is more than just a fashion statement, but it’s a rallying call to inspire unrealised greatness across the continent. There’s never been a more pressing time to re-tell the African narrative to the world. For this simple truth to have been so positively received has left me so hopeful about Africa’s future to say the least.
GLAMOUR: What is the first thing you do when you wake up — is there a routine that has helped you manage as a creative (with all that is happening in the world right now)?
Papama: The very first thing I do when I open my eyes is tune into the birds’ chirping outside. Then I smile and do my gratitude meditation. If I don’t follow this basic routine, my day is out of kilter. Meditation is a big part of my everyday life, as it helps ground me, go within so that I can be mindful. When meditation becomes a habit, peace, abundance and joy become a lifestyle.
GLAMOUR: The fashion industry is forced to find new ways to remain ‘relevant’, how are you adapting?
Papama: These current times have been extremely character-building and have ensured that improvisation and creativity become the highest assets. Which are both concepts that aren’t foreign to us Africans. We have had to combine creativity and the use of technology to ensure survival and take our business to the next level. I can’t stress the relevance of having a strong digital presence enough.
GLAMOUR: Who do you have in mind when creating your designs—what story are you telling about the people that wear your T-shirts?
Papama: My customer is someone who is deliberate and intentional with their life. Someone who believes in their own power and in their magic. Someone who appreciates well-made items that remind them how special they are.
GLAMOUR: Is there a South African or any other designer/creative from the continent you would love to work with?
Papama: Nelson Makamo. He and I have mad respect for each other’s minds and have been toying with the idea of working together for a while... Next year is the year!
GLAMOUR: Advice or any words of wisdom for young African designers/creatives that are looking to break into the fashion industry?
Papama: Be authentic. Take your time to find your unique voice and point of view, and once you do, run with it - the world is your oyster. Don’t be afraid to change the rules of the game with your own code and unique vision that naturally fits into the global sphere. Lastly, never forget to dream BIG!