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‘INSPIRATIONAL’ is the one word that I would use to describe Tapiwa Dingwiza, new entrepreneur and a focus of how consistent hard work and determination breeds achievement in the cut-throat world of fashion; having found a niche market and going from strength to strength, this affable lady with her award-winning smile has started an award-winning clothing line that can only grow in the years to come.
Tapiwa 38, was born in a small village in Zimbabwe called Masvingo, and has always had a burning ambition to succeed in whatever she does, encouraged by her parents as one of the earliest memories she has. “Mum and Dad were both pastors who would also make clothing and use these garments to barter for food” she recounted to us. “These skills were passed on to me and led to me studying Textiles at school and sowed the seeds of desire to make and design clothes.”
Opportunities were severely limited for Tapiwa in 2002, when she decided to make the decision to travel to the UK to better hone her talents to make a future for herself and family that she could be proud of.
Coming to a new land with little money but a strong work ethic and having to find the money to pay her way and establish a foothold in the land that she hoped would be the place where success starts, she held a range of positions ranging from hotel receptionist, conveyancer, accounting clerk and the vocation as a carer for homeless people, but never lost her dream, always there, to create her fashion label.
In 2009 she had the opportunity to study at a dress-making school. Making great progress, she was interviewed by the London College of Fashion but she was unable to improve further at that time, as she needed some additional qualifications. With grit and undeterred by this setback, she enrolled on an Extended Diploma with Greenwich Community College, progressing to a Foundation Degree in Tailoring at University of the Arts London and finally completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Bespoke Tailoring in 2016.
Tapiwa is currently studying for her PGCert so that she can teach others and help them progress, whilst at the same time developing her Brand-she is a great believer that success should be shared!
She is very proud to have named her company S. Vingo Bespoke in honour of her birthplace and feels that her achievements have been helped in no small part by her contacts in Thamesmead. Throughout her studies she has been juggling her family commitments and designing and making clothes for friends and family in any spare time she could find. With orders coming in by the day, her business was slowly forming and becoming a reality. This led her to contact the Peabody Socio-economic team in Thamesmead and enrol on a business start-up course.
She beamed “The course was great and helped me to realise that I didn’t need lots of money to start my business and not to spend too much money on stock.” The team in Thamesmead are still working closely with Tapiwa and looking at suitable space for premises and further business support to get the company and legal structures put in place.
Asked how Peabody have helped Tapiwa, she exclaimed: “Tremendously – If I feel stressed or need help then I just give them a call. I feel that I can achieve a lot and am fully supported by the team. “
Tapiwa’s skills and talent have not just been recognised by her growing client base; she has also been awarded Fashion Designer of the Year 2017, by Zimbabwe Achievers Awards UK and Women for Africa Awards UK. She is now focused on growing and developing her business with the long term aim of having her own clothing line manufactured in Thamesmead and her bespoke tailoring service running parallel with this. She is currently working with the Threads Project in Hackney which she was introduced to by Peabody and wants to continue to support young aspiring people by teaching them and passing on her skills.
It sounds like a cliché, but for us, it is fantastic to meet a young woman who, despite humble beginnings in life has shown that, with a positive approach and hard work and determination to overcome obstacles, success is available for the deserving.
Tapiwa is certainly deserving and only greater things can come: we hope to help her progress and look forward to congratulating her on the many achievements still ahead.