Features

Elizabeth: Inspiring fashion designer

SUNDAY PROFILE with CHRISTINE CHISHA
Lusaka
AT THE age of eleven, Elizabeth Mwanza discovered her talent in sewing and two years later, she had her first client.
Today, Elizabeth is an accomplished fashion designer and is slowly becoming a household name under her label Afrilimwa.
The 26-year-old discovered her talent by using her mother’s tailoring machine and through trying different patterns, the talent grew naturally.
In high school, Elizabeth sewed a number of attires for her school such as sports costumes, National Theatre Arts Association of Zambia (Nataaz) festival and custom made clothing for a number of her school mates and some teachers.
“My passion and experience has grown over the years and I want to make a huge impact in society. I want to restore hope to women and children affected by various challenges the reason I started sewing school uniforms for the vulnerable,” Elizabeth said.
She said while growing up in Lusaka and attending school in Luapula Province, she witnessed a number of her friends going to school without uniforms and proper school bags.
She took it upon herself while in school and after completing school to start a foundation under the name, Elizabeth Mwanza, to sew uniforms for young people.
Today, Elizabeth has sewed a number of uniforms and bag packs and the demand keeps on growing.
At the moment, she has over 300 uniforms and bags to make.
“I believe I have the ability to make a difference under the Elizabeth Mwanza Foundation. I have several projects. One of the projects running is the uniform project”, she said.
This project was born out of making three pairs of uniforms and three bag packs for underprivileged girls who were in grade ten.
The tailor who is also a motivational speaker, believes in not giving dreams a second guess and not to allow one’s vision to be distracted.
Elizabeth motivational talks in schools and communities and encourages young people, especially girls, to focus on their vision, drive their purpose, desires and determination to achieve their set goals.
‘’You may face a lot of obstacles but do not quit, keep striving. Do not let anything or anyone stop you.
Her happiest times are when she has been involved in a good cause, doing positive things for others, such as encourage someone, offering a loving smile or a helping hand to someone who needs it.
Elizabeth, the fourth born in a family of six, is grateful to her parents for the values they have instilled in her because she has learnt on how to extend a helping hand.
Recently, Elizabeth took time to talk to younger girls aged 15 and 18 on abstinence.
She said she was happy that she had the opportunity to remind the girls how valuable they were and the importance of saying ‘No’ to sex before marriage.
“It makes me so happy to see girls make decisions to be on reserve and stand their ground in a world where dating is all about sex these days. I feel so glad I had the opportunity to remind these girls how incredible they are for the values they choose to stand for,’’ she said.
Elizabeth, a Christian, encourages her fellow young people to have mentors to guide them in their career path.
Her mentor is Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) Executive Director Bernadette Deka.
“A mentor is important in every girl’s life and I am very fortunate and blessed to have a mentor like Ms Deka. I may not have the same passion as she has but her passion for hard work is what makes me look up to her,” she said.
Being a young woman, Elizabeth is prone to a number of challenges but with the help of God, her parents and her mentor, she is equipped to overcome them.
“My passion will not let me quit making a difference in the lives of young people. Being young is not a hindrance to achieving goals, one can be what they want to be,” she said.
Elizabeth, who also sews modern classic outfits, has been showcasing her talent and works at the Zambia Fashion Week and a couple of other fashion shows.
‘’My experience showcasing my designs has always been great, I have learnt a lot from other designers’’.
The bubbly fashion designer is also confident and her favourite quote is – “I am meant to be a winner and nothing can stop me. I am ordained to succeed by God”.

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