Chanceline Ngoie Tshomba is laying stake to a little piece of Africa, or maybe an assortment of them, and, in so doing, she has become a shi-ning success story for disillusioned youth.
The 24 year old has launched her own clothing range, runs her own shop in Simon’s Town and provides an outlet for other young designers to sell their original brands.
She’s articulate, motivated, respects hard work and says her dad is the wisest person she knows.
The Muizenberg resident studied design at Muizenberg High School and always loved it, but the South African job market being what it is she has held a wide array of jobs.
“I have done child minding, waitressing and been a shopkeeper and an assistant buyer. I’ve worked in the PR industry and done events for kids. I’ve taken whatever jobs have been available and learned all I could in each,” she says.
She laughs, saying some were not her ideal positions, but she didn’t baulk at the work, ever.
Then, when she was a shop assistant in Simon’s Town, the owner of the shop she was in said she was calling it quits.
“I recognised this as an opportunity and basically had three weeks to get my paperwork – and money – in order, and I took the risk. I had savings, so I invested that into the business. And now it’s mine,” she says.
Her logo, Shika Afrika, is the culmination of creative inspiration gleaned from the many countries she has lived in.
“In Swahili, shika means ‘to stake’ or ‘grab hold of’ so I thought it was appropriate. I’ve taken little pieces of all the places I have lived and put them into my own clothing designs. Also, when tourists buy my designs, they are taking a little piece of Africa home with them,” she smiles.
Chanceline arrived in Cape Town as a well-travelled 9 year old.
Her family lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then in Burundi, where her father worked in an effort to avoid the civil war. They then moved to Tanzania to escape the genocide in Burundi, and, in later years, to Mozambique before making Cape Town their home.
“I’ve lived here now since I was 9, and all my high school years were spent at Muizenberg High. But moving so much when I was young exposed me to different cultures and languages, and even now, I pick up languages very easily,” she says.
Throughout the different jobs she held, Chanceline continued to create her own designs, initially making small items like hair clips and selling bowties to friends and family. So her skills were kept fresh and her eye for new things, active.
She knows many young people are discouraged but advises them not to give up on their dreams; instead, she says, they should fine-tune the skills they need to make those dreams come true.
She has four local young designers’ products on consignment in her shop. She says she respects their hard work.
“I like the social enterprise aspect in the Sexy Socks label. The man who makes them is deaf, and for every pair which is bought, a child gets a matching pair of socks – I appreciate that, and it makes me want to support him,” Chanceline says.
Her own pieces are a blend of African-inspired colour with vintage style. Outside, the summer streets are hot, people with ice creams and smiles amble through the dappled light of the sidewalks.
“Simon’s Town is amazing this time of year. It is the perfect destination to browse, and there are so many unique things to find here,” she says.
“I really like this spot. Having said that, I know growth is the only way to thrive, so I am always looking to expand… I want to support small businesses. I know the value of being given that opportunity, so I am really happy to sell my own work and at the same time, be a stepping stone for other young local designers,” she says.