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AnnieG’s rise to the top

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A twin’s desire to be different from her sister has seen her develop into an extraordinary professional designer.

NONHLANHLA SIBANDA
OWN CORRESPONDENT

When growing up, Annie Gonyora would cut up and change the design of her clothes to make them different from those of her twin sister Beauty.

Born in Bulawayo, Annie grew up in a family of four girls. She attended primary school at Newmans Ford in Kingsdale, Bulawayo, where – she first made an apron in Grade 7.

At high school Annie was a fashion police to her friends – she would tell them what to wear and what not to wear.

Passionate and enthusiastic about her newfound past time, she first showcased her designs at a Miss Rural Zimbabwe pageant at a tender age of 15 with the help of a sewing machine her parents purchased for her.

Ironically, her parents initially did not allow her to be preoccupied with her newfound love, but instead encouraged her to concentrate on academic studies.

After completing school she tried to focus on designs, but with parents who believed that education is the key to everything, she was forced to go back to school.

In 2007 she studied Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting in South Africa at the University of Limpopo.

“I started my own brand ‘Brand Uniq Identity’ after varsity and fully established it in 2010, but the birth of my daughter Uzuri, who is four now, made me change to the new brand AnnieG. I was now a mother and needed a mature and sophisticated brand AnnieG. The self-titled brand was to be more mature and befitting of the style I had adapted.

“My designs are targeted at the sexy, independent women, that sister, the career woman and the mother. I was always passionate about empowering women and it also represented the God in me, because I believe He has been my ultimate teacher,” she said.

Anne is the only female director of the Bulawayo Board of Designers and her style is Afro-centric, classy and edgy yet practical and comfortable.

“I source my fabric locally, it’s not easy but I believe as a designer when you are faced with such a challenge, that’s when you are the most creative because you already know the design itself should surpass the lack of quality fabric.”

Annie points out that besides tight finances which are the biggest challenge, the government and local businesspeople still do not view the arts as a tangible or profitable investment.

“So even when we try to get loans it’s never easy. I believe there is no room or provision for us to grow and perfect our skills. We have not reached the standards of the West or set our own standards.

People don’t have the love to fully support the arts and understand the value of designer clothing. I am inspired by almost everything real; I draw my strength from nature and its beauty,” she said.

The designer put her career on hold in 2013 to manage SMOG Records, a recording company which houses upcoming artistes such as Defined House with the popular hit Sailing Away.

“I believe in somewhat philanthropic activities, I involve myself in a lot of charity work with orphaned children. I am also an environment activist at heart and I work alongside BBD in all these projects.”

Annie has showcased her work at Miss Zimbabwe Environment (2012), Miss Earth (April 2014), Fusion Runway show for the Bulawayo Board of Designers, and the July Fashion Frenzy (2014) at Studio 13.

Who knows, Annie could probably turn out in the not-too-distant future to be Zimbabwe’s own version of Donatella Versace, the acclaimed billionaire Italian designer who has dressed world celebrities.

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