1: how did we are Jona start?
Jona (like most good stories) started over a delicious cup of coffee. I had just moved back to Jeffrey’s Bay after graduating from NMMU with a Diploma in Fashion Design. In March of 2015 a good friend of mine and I spontaneously decided that we wanted to start a clothing label. At that stage we weren’t sure what the brand would be, or even what we were after exactly, but we knew we wanted to pursue something together. We mulled over ideas, discussed things we thought were lacking in the market- things we longed to see in SA. And so, after 8 months of patternmaking, sampling, fighting with courier companies and CMT’s, JONA was born. Fast-forward a year and a half: we are JONA is still going strong. My friend and co-founder of JONA has left to pursue her career in early childhood development and is cheering JONA on from the sidelines. JONA is officially my baby and I am loving it!
2: what does We are Jona mean?
Giving your business an identity is such a daunting task.. At that stage my friend and I were both going through some struggles in our personal lives and the story of Jonah in the Bible came up a couple of times. For us obedience to God and what He’s saying to us for our lives take priority above anything else. Jonah went against what God said and ended up in a place of frustration and disappointment. When we say ‘we are JONA’ , we see it as a declaration that we are obedient to Him first. In our business, in our dealings with people, in our families and in our communities.
3: did you have experience in the fashion industry before you started your label?
I’ve always loved fashion. My parents say that I demanded to dress myself from the age of two, not leaving them any space to dictate my wardrobe:) I studied fashion design and graduated in 2014. The only experience I’ve had has been through internships. I had the amazing opportunity to intern for the Marketing Coordinator of SAFW (SA Fashion Week) for two seasons and got some experience interning at a tailoring company called House of Monatic in Cape Town.
4: how do you decide what your range is going to look?
We design and create capsules – a ‘mini range’ or limited amount of items that you can mix+match and build your wardrobe with. That’s the first thing. Secondly, I look at the theme or ‘feel’ I’m going for with a specific capsule. This is usually something that has inspired me- it could be anything from a picture or photograph to an interesting plant I came across somewhere. With our last capsule collection, EARTHED, I saw these incredible images in the ‘Weg’ magazine (an Afrikaans travel/ adventure magazine) and I was captivated! We went for earthy, neutral tones and tried to channel the unadulterated beauty we find in nature to create classic pieces. Finally, I look at how the pieces all fit together to create a cohesive capsule. It is so important to me that when someone buys a JONA item, they know they’re making an investment. I want customers to be able to buy a couple of pieces that speak to them and then be able to combine them in different ways to create various looks.
5: what is different about your brand that stands out above other clothing brands?
We’re surrounded with so much talent and creative ideas today that it’s hard to really say my brand is different to any other brand out there. Instead of using buzzwords like ‘slow fashion’ or ‘sustainability’, I will say this: I am passionate about creating a healthy business that can contribute to people in my community, be it through job creation or simply cultivating a culture of creativity. Our label is built on the principle that less is more as we celebrate simplicity in the items we make. I believe that creating honest, beautifully designed pieces of great quality is the future of fashion. We aim to build curated capsules that will transcend trends and seasons, providing our customers with items they can wear for years to come.
6: where do you see We are Jona in 5 years?
I have this dream to have a JONA production factory in Jeffreys Bay, where underprivileged women can be trained as seamstresses. So it would be great to be closer to that dream in 5 years! I would also like to have established JONA as a prominent and healthy company that will continue to grow. In 5 years I also see JONA being part of cultivating a movement in SA where people value and support local production and businesses, choosing quality above quantity.
Weekend blouse: we are Jona
Tracker Pant: we are Jona
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Photos by: Chanelle Photo and Design