He's just R100 000 short of his goal. Then he will jet off to New York fashion week to showcase his brand.
So far, he's raised more than half of the funds needed for the trip.
Mdantsane designer Yemihle Ndadlana has already raised a quarter of a million rands to showcase his upbeat fashion line, HeadbandPapi, in New York from 21-27 February 2023.
He applied to the Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy for assistance and also hosted a fundraising event called “Mami’s and Papi’s” on 10 December 2022 at East London’s Orient theatre where local artists, dancers and designers showcased their talents to raise the R250 000. Now R100 000 stands between him and his dream.
“I went online to Fashion Week Studio and basically took a leap of faith and completed the online application in order to be selected to participate in the runway shows,” the 24-year-old says.
It was not even a month after this that he got an invitation to the 2022 Paris Fashion Week, which he was unable to attend because of lack of funds. The opportunity came knocking on Yemihle’s door for the second time when he was later invited to the NYC fashion week as well.
Speaking to Drum, he says, “[It] means everything to me because I believe this is a life-changing opportunity.”
“I would succeed in changing my life including my family’s for the better as I have always wished. It would put my brand/business on a different pedestal and would inspire kids from where I’m from, which is Mdantsane, to show them that if I can do that, so can they.”
Yemihle also believes that he’s continuing what his late mother started. His mother, Yekelwa Ndadlana was also a fashion designer in her time and used to work with the iconic Brenda Fassie. For him, it wasn’t a skill he needed to be taught at school.
“I didn’t study fashion design. I believe this is genetical. I learnt everything I know from the streets,” he says.
Although fashion designing started off as a hobby for him in 2015 while he was still in high school, it clearly is not foreign and because of that, he remains dedicated to this journey.
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“Dreaming about my late mother is another thing that’s been driving me to never stop, to never give up.”
Remembering his grandmother’s mantra; “Kuqala kubemnyama kuze kukhanye” which commonly translates to ‘it is darkest just before dawn’, Yemihle is beginning to see his light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Having started off as a joke during the Ivyson tour with Nasty C, the brand name ‘HeadbandPapi’ (Hbp) came from Yemihle’s wearing of headbands which he did to relieve stress.
Clothing production and managing the clothing stall “was stressful during that time and the headband (off-cut) on my forehead represented ‘headband 4 the stress’.
"When I rocked it, it felt like I was getting cured,” the young designer says.
However, Hbp does not only custom-make headbands but also T-shirts and trackpants which were the first garments he ever made back in 2017.
The brand has since grown to produce caps, jackets, hoodies as well as sweaters for the young, hip, and happening.
The aspirant runway headliner also stands as a nominee for the Eastern Cape Hustler’s Awards, a nomination that didn't shock him much.
“I was anonymously nominated but I wasn’t shocked because I feel like I deserve it. I represent Mdantsane but after that, I represent my entire province.”
So far, Yemihle has worked with Nasty C, 25K, DBNGogo as well as Focalistic and aspires to work with Yeezy, Maxhosa and Bathu among other brands.