I am bursting at the seams to share this interview with you. I am honored to introduce you to the Swinford Sisters. A dynamic duo to say the least. These ladies have encapsulated the feminine heart bottled it up and poured it out on to their garments.
I got to meet up with them in their amazing Studio in Cape Town I felt so at home the moment I walked in, they showered me with kindness and hospitality along with a beautiful story of how their Brand Jota- Kena was birthed. Why don’t you grab a cup of tea/coffee put on your favorite holiday track for some background cheer and get to know these lovely gems a bit more. I can guarantee that you will love them as much as I do!
Taylored Heart: How did Jota-Kena start?
Tanith and Keziah: When we were growing up we always knew that we wanted to start something together and in August 2014 we spoke to our dad and said to him that we would love to start a clothing brand. He was completely supportive of it and has backed us up all the way.
Later that year we went to a wedding in Bulgaria and on our way back we went to Istanbul, while we were there God connected us with some people in the textile industry and got a few samples which was amazing. After that, one Sunday after church my parents met a Lovely lady named Natasha who put us in contact with all the right people. It just felt right and we knew that this was a partnership that God had placed in our path.
So we just started and as of September 2015 Jota-Kena was birthed.
Taylored Heart: What does Jota-Kena mean?
Tanith and Keziah: Jota-Kena is John, Tanith, Kezia, Natasha which is the first two letters of each of our names but also Jota means Dance and Kena means unselfish and kind. That is the heart of our brand, we want to make kindness cool in the industry because fashion can be so cut throat sometimes.
Taylored Heart: Did not having experience in the industry make it harder for you?
Tanith and Keziah: We did have a few set backs but they actually worked out for the good and we learnt from the things that didn’t go so great. We found that having less experience helped us to build something that we wanted instead of going with the flow of the industry. Because of our lack of experience it has made us more reliant on God and he has helped us and shown us every step of the way and put things and people in our way that have allowed us to succeed.
When God gives you something to do, he gives you the grace for it as well. God doesn’t call the qualified he qualifies the called. Jota-Kena is much more than just making pretty clothes, its about the heart of it and the people. OUR HEART REALLY IS FAMILY!
In many cases people would say profit comes before people but we want to go against the flow and say people before profit. That is the only way we have found that you can have a lasting impact.
Taylored Heart: How do you decide what your Range is going to look like, do you have a process?
Tanith and Keziah: We want to make clothes that makes women feel good about themselves and comfortable. We don’t really have a process but we just choose things that we like. For this current range we thought, what would be our ideal summer wardrobe? and we just took it from there.
We wanted garments that are effortlessly beautiful that can take you from a work meeting to dinner and drinks after a long day.
Taylored Heart: What is Different about Jota-Kena than any other brand out there?
Tanith and Keziah: when you see A Jota-Kena garment you might notice that it is a bit more modest than a lot of other brands. We are practical, comfortable, versatile and feminine all at the same time.
Our design process is designed around practicality, comfort and the inner beauty of the famine heart. Our garments are all environmentally friendly, a lot of the fabric we use is made out of recycled wood pulp. We are committed to sourcing materials that are sustainable.
Taylored Heart: Where do you see Jota-Kena in 5 Years? What are your goals and ambitions for the brand?
Tanith and Keziah: We would like to start a mens and kids range in the near future. We would love to open our own boutiques locally and abroad. As well as keeping the online store strong! ( You can shop Online Click here )
10% of our profits already go to charity so we would really like to do projects or partner up with different organisasions and help communities.
We really want to maintain the heart of who we are. No matter how big we get we just want to remember that we are stewards of this and it is not for our own selfish gain. We also want to maintain the personal aspect, sometimes when brands grow it looses that personal touch.
We want to bring the art of fashion back to the home.
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“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall
Photography by – Jess The Creative