She describes herself as ambivert, creative and experimental. At 20, Elizabeth Nsama Fundafunda has already established her own brand called Chitenge Liza, known for creating ready to wear accesories and statement neckpieces characterized by elements of traditional African fabric.
For many people, fashion is a way to express their individuality and create cool culture trends. For Elizabeth, it is not only important to be creatively expressive but to also utilize her love for making fashion accesories to create economic independence for herself.
She is only in her first year at the University of Zambia and hasn’t been quotad yet, but her field of interest is in Economics because as times are changing and more attention is being paid to artistic industries such as fashion, she is convinced that growing the industry will require people who are both artistic and well-versed in business to build a sustainable fashion ecosystem and she wants to be one of them.
We caught up with Elizabeth to spotlight her as one of the girls in a flourishing network of creative young individuals in Zambia.
Que; Tell us about Chitenge Liza, what inspired it?
“It started out as me just experimenting on a pictorial I came across on my Pinterest feed. I guess my inspiration came from seeing a picture of something I knew I could one day get good at if I practiced. My role is basically fashioning the rope filled fabric into a conventional or unconventional piece of jewelry.”
Que; What is the best thing about your creative process and where do you draw inspiration for the pieces you create?
“Because I love Do It Yourself (DIY) projects, the best thing is being able to turn simple fabric or in most cases, people’s leftover chitenge fabric into something unique, creative and fashionable. I draw inspiration from unconventional pieces of jewelry, some clothing designs, and prints on fabric.”
She started Chitenge Liza when she was 19 and asked how the Zambian market has received her craft, Elizabeth says, relatively well. She also indicates that her family is very supportive and encourages her creative growth.
“When I realized that I couldn’t sew the fabric onto my neckpiece efficiently, my grandmother willingly took over that process and made it her hobby and when I first launched Chitenge-Liza, my older sister, Bwalya, and my mum gave me the fabric I needed to work with.”
She says her mum especially gives her the necessary time and space to be creative while her immediate sister, Mwenya gives her constructive criticism when she needs it. Her friends also come in to help her choose fabrics and advertise the finished product.
“I owe the name ‘Chitenge-Liza’ to my cousin Seya who also helped me a lot with advertising my accesories.”
Que; You are young and vibrant, what would you like other young girls like you to know about turning their gift into an income generating opportunity?
“It may seem scary or hard at first and there may be competitors but we are all gifted uniquely and your gift will always be different from everyone else’s. So long as you keep learning, are consistent with your quality, and as my mother says, ‘don’t follow the crowd’, that’s what will differentiate you from the competition. Also, listen to constructive criticism and don’t procrastinate on starting your business.”
Some of Elizabeth’s favorite highlights of her creative work, include making pieces for popular Zambian fashion designer ChizÓ, one of her pieces featuring in internationally acclaimed artist, Pompi’s “Your mind” video, and creating a piece for the cover art of Zambian song bird, Seya’s track, “Be-You-Tiful”.
To help improve the market reach for her pieces, Elizabeth would like to see more Zambians actively supporting and opting for more locally made products and services. She says it’s also important for people to acknowledge the labour and cost of production for the jewellery and buy it for it’s added value, rather than bargaining their way through.
One person she considers a brand favorite is a friend called Malikana Mulele who she says continually shows support for her business and refers other people to buy from her
If she could ship her pieces anywhere in the world, Elizabeth says she would like to see her jewellery reach the UK and US markets. So, for lovers of all things simple, sophisticated and African, her jewellery is definitely worth having and spreading the word about.
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