Nkateko Fortunate Khoza is one of the country’s fashion designers whose work has even been well received abroad but who still work as if it is her last days on earth.
She is the founder and owner of her own company – Lufi-D – which she founded in 2016.
But a couple of years ago she had to juggle in between her life and navigated through a throng of various careers ranging from selling car insurance policies and working at fruit and vegetable establishment, an experience which Khoza admittedly accepts as ‘eye opening.’ And as they say, life is the best teacher.
At the time she was an Information Technology (IT) student at the famous Birnam Business College. She graduated in 2006. Khoza, while still reminiscing about her student days says even when faced with books she still could manage to think deep about what her next big and life-changing project could be.
“Even during my course I got a job at a local fruit and vegetable store and also sold motor insurance and on the other side busy working on establishing Lufi-D,” she says as a matter of fact.
vAs a female entrepreneur who knows no boundaries when it comes to business acumen and ethics but strictly and religiously follows them to the last rule, Khoza, who also boasts some top local names among her clients, believes in hard work more than anything else. Local famous celebrities and role models that Khoza dresses include global icon and successful business woman Yvonne Chaka Chaka, singers Amanda Black and Candy “TsaMandebele” Mokoena; TV and radio presenter Penny Lebyane and Natasha Phahlane as well as super couple Linah and Bheki Ngcobo of Ihashi Elimhlophe fame.
She credits her success to her resilience which has even seen her pushing down doors that had been closed to her.
“It is through marketing and relentless marketing that makes the company be what if is today. I never stop working and ensuring that I market the business as much as I can. It is all about sleepless nights at the end of the day,” says Khoza.
She says that three years ago, when Lufi-D had just been started and competition at its all-time-high, the only task lying ahead for Nkateko was to get all the necessary support structure. That structure has been there in the form of her siblings: Mpho, Bafana and Jessica as well as parents – well-known businessman and former Eskom and Nedbank chairman Ruel Khoza mother Selina Khoza.
“The most important thing for me is to have these people all around me. That, for me, is important because without it there would not have been much to accomplish,” says Nkateko.
Contrary to popular belief within the public and even in the celeb and entertainment world about reported and at times stiff competition in the fashion industry, which at times is widely believed to bother on animosity and bad blood among, Khoza, however, paints a different picture characterized by good workman camaraderie among fashion designers.
“When we meet it is a sort of a re-union. We look at each other as one industry and even share different opinions on how best to improve our lots and encourage each other,” Khoza points out.
She admits that it is not easy for her to rest but when she does Khoza prefers to go kill some time by relaxing at her recently launched beauty establishment called Lufi Boutique and Day Spa which was opened on 6th September.
With October being widely declared as Transport Month, during which the safety and well being of road users and the general public is upper most in government’s mind, Khoza cautions about the need to be extra vigilant as the country has just moved into lockdown Covid-19 Level 1, particularly those traveling. Medical experts have warned repeatedly of a 50-50 possibility of a second wave of infections in the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is sad that we may still experience another wave in high infectious in Covid-19 epidemic. I need to urge everyone to be safe and ensure that they protect themselves at all times,” she says.
Her words of encouragement to up and coming fashion designers is simple: work until you get it right. She says that aspiring female entrepreneurs must not let their first attempts, which are more often a series of failures, discourage them from vigorously pursuing their dreams.