Keneilwe Mothoa a.k.a. ‘Aunty Nei’, our #Summer19issue cover star chats to us about her career as an interior and fashion designer and her views on a “Southern Hemisphere lifestyle”, the theme of our brand new issue.
Tell us a little about your background.
Everyone calls me ‘Nei’ or ‘Aunty Nei’. I’m both an interior designer and fashion designer. After co-founding Prime Obsession, a fashion brand, I moved into the commercial space of retail design where I designed interiors for a fashion retailer. I then freelanced for a while and collaborated with a few brands to create digital/social media content which I still do.
Currently, I’m a trends and design specialist.
How would you describe your experience in the South African creative/ design industry? What has being in the creative space taught you?
It’s been a pleasant one, I have had the opportunity to experience different design languages through fashion and interiors and have had the privilege to work with amazing people.
I have learnt that staying true to what your concept is and believing in it will take you as far as you can dream. I think there’s been so much change. And the perception about Africa not being a great continent has changed; it’s beautiful to see my peers being recognised for their creations in the world. I have learnt a lot.
How do you stay consistent with your content creation?
For me creating content is mostly a spur of the moment type of thing; and I think that’s when the authenticity shines through. When I tend to overthink the process, nothing ever comes right.
Where do you seek inspiration to create?
Search engines like Tagwalk, Pinterest and WGSN are where I draw inspo from. I also collect old magazines to see the transformation of fashion, print media, photography etc. and adapt that into whatever it is I do.
I also have a great set of friends in different fields from finance to design that are a big source of inspiration to me; we share ideas and feed off each others energy.
Then there is my Grandmother. I call her my ‘Golden girl’ because back in her days she was all about FASHION and I look through her images for inspiration, from the way she posed to how she dressed.
What are your thoughts on a ‘Southern Hemisphere Summer lifestyle’ and the fashion that goes with it?
I think the fashion has come along way and its bold, bright and beautiful. I think people are breaking out of their shells and are really warming up to dressing up. Silhouettes, fabrication, construction, colour and prints are being explored in fun and interesting ways. Fashion has become a major part of peoples lifestyles and there is a thought process when people put things together.
What advice would you give to your younger self, the one who was just starting out in the industries that you’re in?
“Stay patient and trust in your journey”
I actually tattooed this on my body to have that constant reminder that not everything you want to do will work out and that’s ok. Sometimes you have a “set” plan but it will take time to get it to where you want it to be, so be patient and believe in whatever it is you are doing because someone out there is going to notice you or your work.
What’s the next move for “Aunty Nei”?
Right now she is going with the flow but furniture/product design is definitely in the pipelines.
Your top 5 style tips for summer 2019/2020?
– Get yourself a sheer dress/blouse- you wont regret it.
– Less is always more!
– Simplicity doesn’t have to be boring so play round with voluminous sleeves and silhouettes
-A #musthave is a barely there sandal in your closet
– Maximise on accessories
Swimwear : @shweshwekini
Follow @keneilwe_mothoa on Instagram
Follow @Neilwe_nei on Twitter
Written by: Olwethu Ngodela