When Wendy Ewurum launched her brand, Mocha Chic in 2017, she had no actual background in fashion but a strong vision: to create a platform for all women to access fashion without feeling they have to conform to society’s standards of beauty. Knowing how hard it is for women to build their confidence, she set out to create garments that highlight her clientele's innate beauty and self-esteem. Wendy understands the feminine experiences that can lead women to retract into their shells all too well and is adamant to boost their confidence through fashion.
"I come from an ETD background within the financial sector with a focus on provider accreditation, learning content development and Quality Assurance. A couple of years after I got married and we started having kids I decided to freelance which eventually led to me being a full-time stay at home mom. Overtime, these transitions took their toll on me and I ended up in an unhealthy state, mentally and physically. Being extremely obese (size 46/48) and not loving myself at all I decided to make a change. Little did I know that in the journey of creating a healthier, confident, self-loving me, Mocha Chic would be born.
It was in this journey to health that I found out I had a flare for fashion. As my body changed, I started creating the garments I felt I wanted to grace and accentuate my body, clothes that I could not find in stores because, at size 42, I am still extremely overweight for designer type wear that has quality fabric and craftsmanship."
Even though many of the women in Wendy's family were practically born with an entrepreneurial spirit and needles and thread in hand, she had never imagined herself following in their footsteps. It was only over a year ago that she decided to venture into selling African print fabric, and within a short time clients began requesting that she create their garments herself, seeing as it was difficult for them to find the right tailors who understand plus-size garments.
"I am inspired by how we seem to be getting to a point of loving ourselves unapologetically and through fashion I see the world starting to recognize and respond to that. My campaign has been to take African fashion away from the idea of it being event wear, only good for weddings and such celebrations. And so, I am encouraged and inspired by the fact that I see our fashion in work wear, street wear and everyday clothing. Although I do use a lot of African print in my designs, I do not consider myself an “African Style Designer” because I work with all forms of fabrics as long as they inspire me. But I take great pride in us, as designers, collectively putting our focus on showcasing our fashion vistas as a continent, to the rest of the world."
Though Wendy often struggles with the challenges of recruiting skilled craftsmen and seamstresses, the creative aspects of her work make it all worth it. She thrives on seeing her team's reaction when she's come up with another breathtaking design and finds validation in the fact that her clients recognize her intuition is always on point.
Most of Wendy's fabrics are sourced from West and East Africa, but she also loves experimenting with Nigerian lace and Turkish silk. As a budding entrepreneur who works with physical tools, downtown Johannesburg has become her go-to for quality machines and economic prices. As far as her design ideas go, Wendy likes to think she was a pin-up model in a former life and draws inspiration from her past-life styles.
"I’m always trying to channel Moulin Rouge in the character of my clothing," Wendy guffaws with laughter, "I laugh but it's true. I think I love being a woman and the power of my sexuality so that always sort of directs my own design ideas, its understated but always present, that whatever I create must be feminine and strong. I firmly believe that my strength lies in being woman, and that is what God and the universe gave me to navigate this world and so I seek to always celebrate it in my work."