MWINDA means “LIGHT”. More specifically “the traditional African Petrol lamp” in Kitunba/Lingala language in Congo. The brand is a mixture of comtemporary yet vintage with inspiration of the beautiful African culture.
Joëlle Ngolatsie is a Congolese fashion designer and founder of Mwinda. Raised between Congo-Brazzaville and South Africa, currently based in Dubai. The young and dedicated designer is a business management major, her Passion for fashion cultivated right from childhood. The Mwinda woman is independent, confident, classy, sexy in a modest and captivated way, she is unique and extremely aesthetical soul.
A conversation with Joëlle Ngolatsie for Trend Privé Magazine
TPM: When did you first realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
I don’t remember when I just wanted to realist my inspiration and thoughts, from the drawing on paper to an actual garment, and from an actual garment to having it worn on an actual person someone that would want to wear it so much that they would spend their earned money to buy it. Then I realized, wait! You need to sell more of your designs if you want to keep seeing those drawings come to life. And then and then and then… before I knew it I would introduce myself as, “Hi, I’m Joëlle Ngolatsié and I’m a Fashion designer.” I also realized it sounds waaaaaay cooler that it sometimes is.
TPM: When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?
My first internship was in an insurance company as an HR assistant. I learned that I was indeed good with responsibilities, that the office job etc was quite OK, and that I could maybe do it but it was not for me.
TPM: What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?
I’m still completing my bachelor in Business management . As to how I landed this position of Founder and fashion designer, well… I just stared my own brand.
TPM: Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in five words .
Thoughtful, economical, mature, futuristic, ethical.
TPM: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Chill and enjoy it more than to stress about it.
TPM: What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
Because I didn’t study designing etc… I made so many mistake I can’t count.
For example I bought rolls of fabrics that ended up only being used for prototypes because I found better quality fabric. Then after finding that great quality and idyllic fabric I made an entire stock of the designs without even getting the demand for it. Hope this helps someone not to make the same mistake.
TPM: What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?
Each collection and campaign is different therefore I never look for the same look. But if there is one thing I look for in all of them is a bit of hip, or butt that presents the clothes better, they must have a certain presence both physically and emotionally or spiritually.
TPM: What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Fashion and social media go hand in hand, it shows you what you could wear, how, also who made it, where you can buy it and so on, it keeps people on their toe. Social media emphasizes and boosts what could have been never seen.
TPM: What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?
My non-favorite part is the fashion calendar of when the Spring/Summer and the Fall/Winter clothes must be out, it can be stressful. My favorite part is the creative part.
TPM: How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
I know they will feel confident, because they’ll be wearing an extremely well designed unique piece. Now as to how I want them to feel, I want them to walk, act and feel with confidence and like they own which ever room they walk into, head up with that Beyoncé walk and Angelina Jolie attitude.
TPM: Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in fashion industry?
I think every brand that is true to itself is different and contributes to the fashion industry by its individuality. Mine contributes by its newness, boldness. The difference is that because I am emerging brand and don’t fully know all the rules I design exactly I feel.
TPM: News on the way regarding your next collection?
After two Spring/Summer collections, I am finally designing my very first Autumn/Winter collection for 2019 season. And again I shall do as I feel and bring you creativity and color in the winter.
TPM: What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer?
It depends on what the designer want to achieve. I want originality, exclusiveness, newness, therefor what is challenging sometimes is “have I done enough” ? Or “would they get it?” “Is it too much?”
TPM: There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself?
Nope! I’m blessed enough to have more than one person that encourages me and motivates me. My parents, siblings, close friends are all rooting for me. And I’m grateful.
TPM: How do you think a big brand should motivate their collaborators and team members?
I have no idea, I will let you know soon.
TPM: How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?
The Fashion industry is one of the most countable industry world wide, but it also has major negative effects on the environment when it comes to how clothes are disposed. Sustainability would make fashion more enjoyable as our conscience would be at peace from the atrocity we the industry might be causing. Yes. I do see more brands joining the movement as I think everyone that is in this industry must be affected in some way and slowly but surely would adjust to the eco fashion way.
TPM: Describe us you as a designer and how your feelings influence the creativity process?
I’m quite a visceral designer, I project myself in my designs and try to see everything in my customers point of view. My feelings and creativity only have me in common besides that, they both function independently from each other me feeling sad does not shut down my creativity flowing into me or me feeling happy won’t make me design tulles and pink dresses.
TPM: Would you like to involve other accessories designers in your future projects?
Yes I would, in my new collection I designed leather belts, it was exciting, I’m looking forward to designing more accessories. I’m eager to explore my talent and stretch what I think is my ability.
TPM: What do you think is the main mission of the CO-BRANDING concept ?
I think Co-branding’s a genius way to mutually help each other, it’s brilliant.
TPM: How fashion PR agencies can help more the brands and what skills a good fashion PR should have in your opinion?
I think they could revisits their tactics into maybe helping brands with exchange of services as well. And not keep it so narrowed . They could use their black book to connect different brands that could mutually benefit each other.
TPM: What designers inspire you and why? There is anyone special who would like to meet in person?
Chanel, Tom Ford, Jacquemus, Dior, Madame Grès, Christian Louboutin, Balmain . All these designers talents and designs fascinate me in a profound way. Their stories are so inspiring and motivating I’ve heard them repeatedly. In my dreams we spend and entire creative day together exchanging and learning.
TPM: What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?
My collection is sold on my website: www.mwinda.co and although I think it’s great, modern and easier on people to shop wherever they are. However I find it a bit challenging to convince people to trust that you are selling them a high quality garment, that it is true to the size indicates on the website, that it’ll be delivered on time etc… it’s a big ask.