Village girl conquers fashion world

ROSE Vambe’s story is a source of inspiration. Vambe owns one of the largest upmarket African attire outlets in the country — a dream come true judging from her humble beginnings.
She hails from a poor village in Murewa called Chitowa and started horning her fashion skills at a very young age until she broke into the big league.

Growing up in Murewa, on the eastern side of the capital — Harare, she quickly discovered her gift in using her hands and would use home-made needles to sew second-hand clothes handed down to her by her aunts.
“I used to highlight the areas I needed to tuck using charcoal and would lay on the garment so that it doesn’t move while plotting lines on it. 
‘To tuck in the dress, I would use a home-made needle because my only aunt who had a needle lived so far away,” she recalled.
Her other responsibility while in the village was herding cattle, a measure of wealth in African communities. 
Cattle also provide milk, protein (beef) and are used to till the fields.
“Many people think I started where I am, but I also grew up in the village herding cattle,” Vambe said, before whistling loudly, as she mimicked how they would communicate with colleagues while herding cattle.
This is how it all started. 
Her desire to fit in and clothe herself ended up becoming her speciality.
Lady luck smiled on her when she exhibited her designs at one of the showcases held in Harare.
“It was a humble beginning and my breakthrough came when I got a chance to dress former ZTA boss…Karikoga Kaseke after they saw my designs at a trade fair,” she recalled.
Kaseke was then the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority whose key responsibility was to promote the country as a prime tourism destination.
After years of hard work, her designs are trending, attracting both the young and the old.
When it comes to her business, she is hands on.
She makes her own designs and assigns tasks to tailors in her workshop.
For her, fashion has become her sixth sense.
She believes in being more than just a businesswoman, but a source of inspiration to particularly those coming from underprivileged backgrounds.
Now with four business awards to her credit with the latest being the Zimbabwe Chamber of Small-to-Medium Enterprise award bagged in October 2018, Vambe is not looking back.
Popularly known as Ashava — derived from her shop’s trading name Ashava Designs located along Speke Avenue in Harare’s central business district — she was born on March 9, 1974 and raised in Murewa in Chitowa village where she did her Grade One to Four before moving to Harare’s Highfield suburb where she attended Chipembere Primary School before enrolling for her “O” levels at Queen Elizabeth High School.
All the while, she maintained her rural roots, which partly inspired her fashion sense.
While in kindergarten school, nothing excited her most than sewing.
And as she went for higher grades, she would look forward to her home economics lessons.
Despite coming from a poor background, she would dress herself immaculately as if she was a princess.
While in high school, she took her talent to another level and her teachers would marvel at her work.
While her family was supportive of her passion, Vambe’s father didn’t want her to pursue the trade as a profession.
She found herself doing secretarial studies to please her persistent father.
But during her free time, she would always relapse into her favourite pastime – designing.
“Despite the fact that I was fully-employed in another field, I would still find time to do what I enjoyed the most and people would always wonder how I juggled the two,” she said with nostalgia.
Before pursuing her passion, she once worked in the ICT department at Old Mutual.
She has had her up and downs.
Surprisingly, her setbacks made her become the woman she is today.
At one point, her husband then asked her to quit her job at Old Mutual so she could become a housewife while he provides for the family.
“However, he failed to take care of me like he had promised,” she said of her now ex-husband.
Without a source of income, life became unbearable for her.
She had to resort to her father and siblings for financial assistance.
The mother of two boys had her eureka moment when, in a dream, she heard a voice asking her about her God-given talent. 
Suddenly, it dawned on her that she had deviated from her career path.

The following morning, Vambe sewed a dress inspired by former first lady Sally Mugabe’s African attire that made her stand out at State occasions. That dress awakened the zeal she always had.
The rest is history. Among her customers are government departments, including ZTA, embassies and high-profile executives.
Her shop is stocked with African dresses, traditional artefacts and shoes with colourful traditional designs, among others — all attributed to her inventive and artistic innovations.
But that success didn’t please her husband.“ My ex-husband was really bothered by me doing business and people visiting the house a lot because I had so many customers, so I then decided to move into town.


“To cut the story short, I grew little by little, you start with humble beginnings and I believe I am going to be the souvenir centre of Zimbabwe,” she said.
In a world where young men and women want to get rich quickly to the point of cutting corners, Vambe say Rome was not built in one day.

“My advice to mostly women like me is that humble beginnings should not daunt you — believe in yourself.
“The challenge with most women is that of pride, they want to buy nice big cars, houses, drink expensive stuff and buy nice things like expensive perfumes before the business takes off,” she says.
She concludes that to succeed one must work extremely hard, be patient as the results come through and continue to plough into the business.
“…that is my mantra for success,” Vambe, who is also known as the African Queen said.

    Comments (1)

    There are such success stories but my problem with those is away from zanu connections or zim they dont do well...or they is no business. Sifuna ukuzwa ukuthi intombi yase hobodo eyaqalisa ukulungisa ama sandali ngezigogo zenyamazana zeganga legolide seyavula isitolo e paris kumbe sisebenza lo roberto cavalli. Hiyo intuthuko....

    Ibhetshu labadala - 17 February 2019

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