DeMOYO: The Story of Heart, Hope and Determination
Fashion is a million-dollar industry that is recognized as an economic driver that has the potential to create many jobs. The sector is also a powerful means of cultural and creative expression and this is one of its greatest strength across various contexts. Balancing the creative expression of fashion, whilst creating an economically sustainable fashion entity is not a skill that not many entrepreneurs have. In Zimbabwe, DeMOYO is one of the fashion brands that has managed to strike a balance between creativity and economic sustainability.
DeMOYO is a multifaceted fashion brand whose main focus is corporate wear. The brand whose name DeMOYO means “from the heart” is also augmented by other arms such as bridal wear, DeMOYO Café, as well as the Fashion Forum which aims to create a platform for mentorship of fashion entrepreneurs.
DeMOYO is a female-owned business founded by entrepreneur PaiDeMOYO Chideya. The brand is a reflection of the founder’s belief that dreams come true from following what your heart is passionate about. Though born in Zimbabwe, Pai became a global citizen at a very young age as she was raised in London, Sweden and Paris. Her well-exposed background, would later feed into her love for fashion which manifested itself at a tender age, through her love for art.
After graduating from high school, Pai was faced with a dilemma of whether to immediately pursue a law degree, or to defer and enroll for fashion school. Despite her exposure to a lot of countries, having to choose fashion over a law degree was a decision that would challenge the status quo. Pai recalls her art teacher Mr. MacFarland, vividly telling her to remember who she was as a point where she was at a career crossroad. It was at this point, that she made the bold decision to enroll into the Parson School of Fashion first in 1997. Pai saw it important to validate her dreams, by prioritizing fashion over the conventional education. After completing a year-long training at the Parson’s School of Fashion, Pai pursued a three-year Law degree in London. At this point, she was convinced that fashion was her chosen career and decided to further her fashion education in New York by joining the Associate for Applied Science in Interior Design. As fate would have it, she found herself rubbing shoulders with big moguls in the fashion industry. Determined to hone her craft, Pai apprenticed for big labels such as Carolina Herrera, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren, where she developed a keen eye for vintage, and demure. Working with such big names in the industry was a win for the DeMOYO founder, but the race was not without hurdles and discouragements. Being female, and also African, Pai had to deal with the cruel realities of racism and gender segregation with grace, in an effort to keep the vision alive.
The resilience she showed despite the ups and downs that she encountered, were evidence that the world really clears the way for the woman who knows where she is going. It was this complete package of sweet and sour experiences that shaped Pai’s dream to see progress in the African fashion industry. With that passion at heart, Pai returned home to Zimbabwe in 2013, where she gave birth to the brand DeMOYO – a testament that dreams come true.
Pai’s commitment, exposure, hard work and talent allowed her to mould DeMOYO into a brand to reckon with. In the initial stages of its formation, Pai quickly realized that focusing on designer clothing was not going to be sustainable in a context like Zimbabwe, given the challenges such as the purchasing power of the society and shortage of fashion entrepreneurs with sufficient technical capacity to produce quality clothing. Pai saw this as an opportunity to revolutionize the creative industry and inject help in an economy whose creative sector was suffering. She then pivoted her brand to fill the market gap in corporate wear, where the clothing could be produced at an affordable price point, whilst being sold in high volumes. In so doing, DeMOYO was able to train a lot of young tailors and fashion entrepreneurs thus filling the gap in terms of quality clothing and employment. What was seemingly a problem in Zimbabwe provided Pai an opportunity to demonstrate the expertise she acquired over her many years of exposure and fashion training in a way that contributed to building Zimbabwe’s creative industry.
DeMOYO has managed to remain operational even in the face of COVID 19. Having established a strong presence in the corporate sector, DeMOYO’s business model is set up in way that assures the company of revenue even in the face of this pandemic. To date, the company has produced over 20,000 masks for commercial purpose. In line with its commitment to quality, DeMOYO has approached the Ministry of Health and the Standards Association of Zimbabwe to assist with the standardization of its masks. The company also launched an initiative called “Masked with Hope”, aimed at creating health awareness through creative collaboration, producing and donating PPE (Personal Protective Clothing). Through this initiative, DeMOYO has donated over 8,000 masks to several organizations and hospitals as a way of joining the fight against COVID 19.
Whether in philanthropic work or commercial activity, DeMOYO continues to show where there is passion and heart, dreams do come true and from them a world of possibilities is born. However, the dreams are nurtured by hard work, and conscious efforts to bring them to life. Even when efforts are not instantly reflective of the impact they will make in the future, persistence, hope and diligence will maintain a vision’s integrity in the face of adversity. To view more of DeMOYO’s work visit www.DeMOYOglobal.com or www.paiDeMOYO.com
Article written by Sibusisiswe B. Muperere.