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Dee-kaw-zee: A Zimbabwean song

As a new stylist, I help my clients look their best by keeping my eyes open for trendy brands. I’m constantly looking out for new, exciting and creative local talent to share with my clients, friends and family. Catering to different style needs, isn’t  the easiest job in town but I do it with an eager spirit and an open heart. I love my job because I have the most amazing clients that give me a platform to share my style story and help them with their own style stories and journeys.

My own style journey has led me to a place of renewed curiosity and intrigue about the Zimbabwean fashion industry and the different elements that bring it together. The Zimbabwean clothing market is flooded with duplicates of western concepts and designs and cheap imitations, commonly referred to as mubhero on the streets that have placed a heavy shadow on local talent and their work. If I’m being totally honest, for the most part I was completely unaware of the booming Zimbabwean fashion scene, until I intentionally started learning and exploring the multifaceted nature of Zimbabwean fashion. There is an interlinked web of diverse local talents connected by flows of energy and creativity that I definitely want to get entangled in.

With this in mind, the vision for Style Squad started taking form and shape in my mind. I want Style Squad to provide a service that is relevant, practical and affordable to people in the Zimbabwean context. It is so easy to get caught up with trends from everywhere else in the world and disregard our own, shaping identities that aren’t true to who we really are. Identities that are limiting and restricting, conforming to western type norms and standards.

Africa is constantly described as a dark continent struggling to find a dominant voice in an ever changing world. But I hear Africa’s voice, a song that is bold, loud and proud. A song highlighting diverse  ways of life, cultures, music, art and fashion that is inspired by our being and surroundings. A song that incorporates all our different harmonies and melodies to make one beautiful sound, that is Africa. We have a voice that can only be heard by those who dare to listen.

For me, Style Squad is a platform for different voices to be heard, to contribute and to impact the world we live in by sharing our stories and experiences. 

In my quest to learn more about local fashion and designs, I came across a Fashion Market in my neighbourhood. Like many other people, I have been to all sorts of markets before but never a fashion one. I couldn’t contain my excitement, it felt so tangible, like I could grab it and put it in a box. Imagination running wild with thoughts and ideas of what the market would be like, who I would meet and how I would feel, I set off. Looking back now i know that nothing here on earth, could have prepared me for the actual experience.

The fashion market was exactly what my dreams are made of. A fashion heaven that creates a hub for local designers from all over Zimbabwe to engage and share with each other and us, the Fashion Enthusiasts of Harare. The fashion market is a very vibrant, youthful and creative space where designers’ creative sketches and thoughts become reality, witnessed in the products on display. A beautiful infusion of colours and patterns radiating, dancing from all the stalls, sucking me in. I simply wanted to buy everything!! Every single thing on display, from the beaded jewellery, to the handbags and clutch bags made from various African print fabrics and designs, to the different clothes for all shapes and sizes, to eye wear and even hair products, there was definitely  no shortage of things to buy.

I really felt like a kid in a candy store, wide eyed, moving from stall to stall in wonderment and complete awe. The feeling was surreal and amazing, I could just hear the African voice getting louder and stronger with each step. Designs unique to Africa but specific to my beloved Zimbabwe. Just being in this atmosphere gave me such freedom. Freedom to go beyond my physical reality, the freedom me to dream in a way I never thought possible unlocking passions that seemed to be hidden deep within my soul. The passion to express my being with fabrics, jewellery, shoes, clothes and use my body as a canvas was truly defined in that powerful space.

In the midst of my powerful Fashion Market experience I met miss Takudzwa Chitsike, a local jewellery and handbag designer with an interesting story to share. A young Zimbabwean woman with a dream she had no idea she even had.

Before Takudzwa was the amazing jewellery/handbag designer she is today, she actually a lawyer. She studied law and managed to obtain a Masters’ degree in South Africa. She practiced law for four years in Jo’burg (South Africa) and she says, ” I hated it and I just got fed up. One morning, I said right, this is it! Am done! I walked to the office, wrote my letter of resignation and left.”

Imagine that, she just left her job with no idea, plan or clue what she would do. How many of us would have the courage to make such a bold decision for yourselves and pursue a future riddled with uncertainty?

After quitting her job, Takudzwa packed up all her belongings and moved to Pretoria to live with mother. She left her life and job in Jo’burg without so much as a second thought. No plan B, just a strong heart that knew law wasn’t meant for her and the willingness to take the time to discover what was right for her.

It wasn’t an easy transition, most times she found herself bored at home, not really doing anything. It must have been a challenging and confusing period in her life and I wondered if in those moments she ever regretted her decision to quit her job and turn her life upside down. Her response was amazing to me, “I don’t think personally I regretted it, I think everyone around me regretted for me.”

An attempt to find her way led her to the Hatfield market. The Hatfield market is similar to the
Fashion market, a creative space for local talent to showcase their work and engage with both new and existing clients.

As she was looking from stall to stall, soaking everything in, one stall in particular stood out. Something about the beaded jewellery on display awakened her curiosity and pushed her to ask more. Fascinated by the jewellery, she felt compelled to buy the tools needed to make her own. The man was gracious enough to give her a quick demonstration and suggest that she start by making earrings because they are easier. Armed with a new purpose, she set out on a new adventure. An adventure that would later became the foundation of her brand, Dee-kaw-zee.

From a young age, Takudzwa was very creative, sewing little dresses for her dolls and making wigs. At fourteen years old she started collecting big, bold earrings, a collection that has grown over the years and she still has to date. Her love for big earrings served as the inspiration behind her brands’ name, Dee-kaw-zee.

After the Hatfield market, she tinkered around with the tools for a while, really just familiarizing herself and learning. With each passing day her confidence grew stronger and she started taking pictures of her work to show friends and family.
A friend invited her to a baby shower and asked her to bring her jewellery to show other friends. Takudzwa was overwhelmed by the response,  the ladies attending the event loved her jewellery, she had nothing left to sell by the end of the baby shower. From then, she took her jewellery to every event to sell. The Dee-kaw-zee brand began to grow, getting more and more recognition in Pretoria.

In 2011, although business was picking up in Pretoria, Takudzwa was fed up of being in South Africa. Once again, she packed up her life in Pretoria and moved back home to Zimbabwe. Her move to Zimbabwe wasn’t the easiest, her father was ill and she wanted to be close to him and she was leaving her whole client base in Pretoria.

With the dream growing in her heart Takudzwa made the move to Zimbabwe and started to rebuild her brand from scratch. The first few months she would actually sell jewellery from the boot of her car, showing her work to everyone she met. The response to Dee-kaw-zee products was again an overwhelming and humbling experience for Takudzwa, seeing her dream take shape in Zimbabwe as well. From the boot of her car, her business grew allowing her to enter new spheres of influence such as styling. To date Takudzwa has styled for Jewel magazine, Edgars and she styled for the first ZIFM photoshoot.

The road to formalising her business and establishing her brand was riddled with hardships and struggles. For the most part her family didn’t understand her decision to stop pursuing a career in law to make jewellery. However, both family and friends were cautiously  supportive  and encouraging but once they started to see Takudzwa’s passion and drive it became clear that jewellery design was her destiny. Her mother now actively helps Takudzwa, assisting with buying beads and helping with designs.

Takudzwa is inspired by her surroundings like nature and interestingly enough even images on television and anything else she finds interesting. What i loved the most though is that Takudzwa actually dreams of designs, “I dream of designs, I don’t sketch, it comes straight from my head to actually making it.”

She travels to South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana for the raw materials she needs to make Dee-kaw-zee products. The exposure and experiences from her travels also inspire her and translate into Dee-kaw-zee finished products, allowing an open minded approach to her creative process.

“I want my clients to feel special, a sense of individuality which is why I love to custom make. It challenges me to think the way they think.”

Takudzwa doesn’t work alone, she teaches and mentors under privileged children with learning disabilities, helping them rebuild their self-esteem and confidence. “My passion now comes from seeing other people enjoying what I do.” Her shop has become a platform for fellow designers to showcase their work. The creative energy  that flows in her shop is incredible,  Zimbabwean rhythms and melodies in the African song.

Today Dee-kaw-zee is a beaded design house that produces elegant costume jewellery, key rings, napkin rings, decorative drops and any other beaded accessories. All Dee-kaw-zee accessories are handmade from all kinds of earthy products like fabrics, wood and of course beads.

To find out more about Dee-kaw-zee products and to make your orders, call 0772340452, drop them an email at deekawzee@gmail.com or look them up on all social media platforms: Facebook- Dee-kaw-zee and Twitter @deekawzee.

Today from MissTakudzwa, I take away the importance of courage, drive and passion. The courage to follow my heart in pursuit of my dreams, the drive and determination to work hard and fight for my dreams in the midst of confusion and doubt and the passion to embrace and push my dreams when I discover them. Today I find my voice and sing my own song to impact the world I live in with my dreams and aspirations.

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