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Studio 05 House of Fashion: Cecilia Mungofa

Fashionistas take an innovative approach to education – and revitalise the rag trade in the process.

Juliet Pitman



Cecilia Mungofa of Studio 5 House of Fashion

South Africa’s clothing industry may be under threat but this was no deterrent to Cecilia Mungofa when she set out to start Studio 05 House of Fashion. “Quite the contrary. It made me want to do something to revive the industry,” says the stylish and statuesque businesswoman. “I knew that the best way to do that was through education, so my vision was to establish an educational institution that would develop the fashion talent of tomorrow.” Cecilia started the company with sons Nashville and Bruno, setting up shop in Rosebank’s vibrant fashion hub, which is home to rag trade icons like Sun Goddess and Stoned Cherrie.

“We started with little more than a room, a few tables and a white board, but what we did have was skills,” says Cecilia, who spent her career in the fashion industry working her way up in afactory from marker to designer. “Bruno came with web design skills and Nashville had been in advertising, so together with my knowledge of fashion, we were good to go,” shesays.

Early years

The initial “marketing campaign” –handing out flyers at traffic lights and running ads in local community newspapers– yielded a small inaugural class of part-time students. “But we quickly realised that we needed to include year-long courses in our offering so that we could be assured of regular monthly fees. To our short courses we added certificate and finally diploma qualifications,” says Cecilia. Doing so allowed the school to cover two bases: the part-time market made up predominantly of older students or those in corporate employment, and the full-time market of young students wanting a fashion career.

Getting the edge

One of the first things parents ask is how long the school has been going for. People want to know that the qualification they are paying for is worth something. A related consideration is whether their qualification will get them a job. Students at Studio 05 can leverage the school’s relationships with top fashion houses to secure internships that provide them with work experience. “We have relationships with both Johannesburg-based fashion weeks, and we organise our own shows to give students a taste for what it takes to conceptualise, design, develop and showcase their own work,” says Cecilia.

A programme called Designer Solutions provides graduates with support, access to facilities and work opportunities.“Many graduates don’t get to follow their dream because they don’t have access to facilities or infrastructure to get going. Designer Solutions allows them to use our facilities and equipment for a very competitive rate. This gives them a chance to get their own operations up and running. And we put them in touch with the local fashion stores with whom we have relationships so that they can gain access to the market,” says Bruno. Studio 05 is also in negotiations with one of South Africa’s biggest clothing retailers. “Graduate designers would be able to pitch their design concepts and then we’d handle the production of the garments in-house as far as possible,” explains Cecilia. Young designers would there by build a portfolio of retail lines while still being free to start their own fashion businesses.

Looking externally

Cecilia’s vision may have started with education, but it’s evolved into something far more holistic. She has a finely-tuned sense of the state of the industry and clear ideas about how it can become a thriving and healthy sector. Where these ideas lead, Studio 05 House of Fashion follows. “One of the biggest problems facing the industry is that the seamstresses who once worked in our factories are nearing retirement age and there’s no one to take their place.

The Department of Labour needs to develop these skills so we’ve partnered with them to be the service provider,”she explains. Studio 05’s fee is paid for out of the National Skills Fund. “But it’s more than an income generator,” says Cecilia, “It means we have access to a much-needed skills base that our graduates can draw on when they start their own fashion businesses.”This macro view, along with the ability to make connections and bridge gaps, can only strengthen the business’s reputation in the industry, establishing the credibility required to become a leader.

  • Studio 05 House of Fashion
  • Player: Cecilia, Bruno and NashvilleMungofa
  • Est2004
  • Contact+2711 447 5552 or

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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