SUNDAY PROFILE with CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
IT is not surprising to many who grew up with Vida Chishimba Chikwaba that she is making a mark in the fashion industry.Â Since she was young, Vida had a passion for fashion and other creative arts.
A science teacher, mother, wife and tailor, Vida never saw herself taking up fashion design and tailoring seriously as a career or business.
â€œAs I became a wife and mother, I was content with just being home [after work] taking care ofÂ my husband and the childrenÂ untilÂ in 2012, I decided to buy some pieces of material and made a few outfits for myself by hand. My work-mates saw them and encouraged me to take it up seriously,â€ she said.
VIDA Chishimba Chikwaba (right) receiving an award in March during the Zambia Women of the Year Awards.
One of her friends, Mercy Musonda, gave her money to buy material and make a dress for her. The friend was so impressed with the outcome and she decided to show her boss, who was also so impressed and offered to lend her a sewing machine.
Vida consulted a tailor she knew on how to use it and basic tips on cutting.Â She got some more orders from friends, and that was the birth of La Vida designs, which is slowly becoming a household name in Ndola.
She officially launched La Vida designs in December 2015 after literally training herself by consulting seasoned tailors in the city. She currently has one tailor.
In March this year, Vida was awarded â€œMost creativeâ€ awards by the organisers of the Zambia Women of the Year Awards (ZWYA).
â€œThe nomination came as a shock to me because I am relatively new to the fashion industry. But I believe people have seen my work and are able to appreciate the hard work and talent behind it.
â€œWe went through the voting process and I managed to get the award. It was a very exciting moment for me, yet humbling at the same time as I was chosen from among so many great, talented women in Zambia,â€ Vida said.
Her most exciting moment was being in the same room with First Lady Esther Lungu and seeing her applauding when she went to give her acceptance speech during the awards, a moment she says she will never forget.
Getting the award has helped Vida to increase her self-confidence and motivated her to work even harder.
She thanked organisers of the Zambia Women of the Year Awards for the initiative to uplift women in Zambia.
On balancing between running her fashion design business and teaching, Vida said it is hectic as both jobs are demanding.
â€œI prioritise my teaching job. I start teaching from about 07:20 hours and knock off around 14:00 hours or a little later. After that, I go to the shop to check on my tailor and meet with clients who may want to personally see me.
â€œI mostly sew in the evening at home and at the shop on Saturday. During school holidays, I am mostly at the shop from morning till evening, unless I have to teach some classes for holiday tuition,â€ she said.
Born 36 years ago, Vida is a teacher at Kansenshi Secondary School. She holds a diploma in Science.Â She teaches chemistry, Biology and Physics.
She is married to Victor Chikwaba and they have three children – two boys and one girl.
Vida says she draws inspiration to work hard from her late mother Mrs Matilda Chishimba whom she described as a strong, hardworking woman.
â€œMy mother was a disciplinarian who taught us the value of hard work and self-discipline, as well as respect for all people. She taught us to be humble, and that one can never be above any kind of work,â€ she said
Vida urged women to utilise the talents God has given them as a seed of wealth.
She said women sometimes find themselves overly dependent on men and sometimes they are forced to remain in abusive relationships simply because they think they cannot sustain themselves.
Vida said,â€ your talent can be a means to your independence. And even for those of us who maybe happily married or working, we can still use our talents as a means of bringing in extra income into the home for those rainy days or during those times our spouse may not be able to fully provide for the family due to some unfortunate circumstancesâ€.
A Christian and member of Ndola Baptist church, Vida said itâ€™s never too late to pursue oneâ€™s passion.
She believes that no matter what may come her way, she can never be defeated as long as she has God on her side.
Vida said, â€œNo matter how old you may be, you can still put your talent to good use.Â In my work, I always ask God for strength and guidance and it is because of this that I am able to come up with designs that people love.â€