Mellisa Mungoni is an electrical engineering graduate and co-founder of La Couture-MM, which specialises in making custom-designed clothes.
Tell me about yourself, i.e., line of work, education, and career?
I am a twenty-four-year-old fashion designer and co-founder of La Couture-MM, which specialises in making custom-designed clothes. I am an electrical engineering graduate and recently started pursuing my master’s degree. I am also a poet and freelance writer, running a blog called justthosecerebrumhiccupmoments. On the blog, I share my ‘cerebrum hiccup moments’ (thoughts and life lessons). I love encouraging and inspiring people through my words.
What inspired you to pursue your line of work/business and, how much work did it take for you to get where you are now?
I guess it’s safe to say I stumbled upon the world of fashion designing. It was some years back when I saw a dress that I wanted for my birthday; however, at the time, I did not have the money to buy it. So, I took a picture and decided to DIY the dress. I shared some photos with friends and family, who gave me a lot of positive feedback and, that is how my journey started. Soon after I, realised that being in a Muslim country meant that most of the fashion, whilst lovely, did not incorporate some of the styles found back home in Zimbabwe. Together with my partner, we decided to take advantage of this niche and have not looked back since then. I have always prided myself as someone who, once I set my mind on, something; I push until I get the desired results. While we still have a long way to go, I am proud of what we have managed to accomplish thus far.
Every journey has its share of challenges; what were yours? Did you ever feel like giving up? If so, what kept you going?
Yes, there have been times I have felt like throwing in the ropes. Some days, balancing schoolwork and meeting client deadlines has sometimes been a hurdle for my business partner and me. However, planning helps us maintain that balance, and if need be, we communicate to clients when we encounter any delays so that we keep them informed.
Another big challenge is our market in Algeria is somewhat limited, it being a Muslim-Arabic country and issues like cultural differences and language barriers are at play. This makes it difficult for us to market to the locals and leaves us with a limited market. To overcome this, we also advertise our products online, using various platforms and, this has helped us get several clients beyond the Algerian borders. Although shipping remains a hurdle as it is often expensive depending on the destination.
What is the big picture, i.e. where to from here?
The goal is to expand our brand back home and be established as a well-known fashion house that gives our clients outfits tailormade to match their unique style and personality. Beyond that, my partner and I would also like to establish a fashion academy to teach design and tailoring. I believe we have many talented designers in Zimbabwe, who only need a platform to promote and grow their talent. Therefore, in the future, one of our goals as La Couture-MM is to provide this kind of platform for other fellow designers and help support the fashion industry in Zimbabwe.
What word of advice would you like give to others reading your story?
Believe in everything you put your mind to do. Be on the lookout for spaces you can fill and have an entrepreneurial mindset that identifies problems and comes up with solutions. Be eager to learn and experience new things for often in them we meet purpose and passion. Above all, let God be your guide and put your trust in Him always. I love God and love speaking about Him to everyone really, He never disappoints.
Connect with Mellisa (click the links):
Facebook: @La Couture_MM
LinkedIn: Mellisa Mungoni
Whatsapp: +213 698 397081