By Melissa Katunga
The fashion brand NATAi NATAi was founded by Cheryl Nyasha Johnson, with the inspiration for the name of the brand coming from her mother’s name.
“Basic essentials that celebrate the feminine physique, made locally in Zimbabwe.” NATAi NATAi
Cheryl studied Business Administration and Art History in college followed by some exciting internships in New York as well as further education that encompassed all her personal interests. She wanted to create a brand that would incorporate everything she had learnt on her educational and creative journey. Although Cheryl’s strengths and passion lies within art, design and photography, having an education that included having a Business Degree has given her the knowledge needed to monetise her talents.
For the creative process, Cheryl sources all her fabric locally therefore all the styles that NATAi NATAi envisions are determined by whatever is available at any certain time. This helps in creating a kinder and more conscious fashion industry. Many of her designs focus on femininity and are versatile enough to be paired with many other things you may already have in your wardrobe. Recently she has been using materials such as chiffon and satins however, her vision includes looking to move towards sustainably sourced and made fabrics such as linen.
The NATAi NATAi workforce is made up of Cheryl, her head tailor Benny and following a recent increase in demand she is currently looking to build her workforce and employ more tailors. This growth has included interest from an international audience with shipping currently including Zimbabwe, South Africa, and requests from all over the world.
With a vision ‘to contribute to the economic development of Africa using art and creative expression’, Cheryl has managed to achieve this via her collaborations on her platform. The images and photography portrayed are all captured in a very artistic manner with a specific aesthetic intention. This has been achieved by working with local talent. Therefore, she feels NATAi NATAi not only creates and opportunity for her to showcase her talent, but also other Zimbabwean creatives through her brand. Some of her collaborations include work with Naka Visuals on photography and Chiedza ‘Diary of Smurf Dinkie’ Chinhara with whom she collaborated with on a collection. Cheryl sourced fabric and created pieces which Chiedza who then styled and produced the visuals. NATAi NATAi also houses other female owned brands such as Shop Efuru and Tutu’s organic skincare brand Organic Jewel, this is all part of Cheryl’s aim to empower local business and strong women’s voices.
In order to personalise your shopping experience, the brand caters to all the regular size charts however if you prefer to be measured and have your clothes tailored exactly NATAi NATAi offers this service as well. Most garments are made to order, therefore the lead time, which was 3-5 but has increased to about 7-10 business days as a result of the continued increase in demand. As the clothes are handmade with great attention to detail, with quality checks being done on each garment it takes a little longer to get them perfect for each order.
Owning a brand and having a family can be a difficult task, Cheryl has managed to strike a balance by learning to create boundaries by maintaining a line between her work and her personal life. She also takes time out for herself which helps clear her mind for creating more unique pieces.
To follow NATAi NATAi’s creative journey follow them on Instagram @natai.natai
Originally published in the December Issue of Ndeipi Magazine