Successful entrepreneurship is simply about finding a way to monetise what you are already passionate about, says fashion mogul and owner of the boutique store D’Oré, Vanessa Gounden on her international eponymous juggernaut, the Vanessa Gounden London brand.
“Fashion has always resonated with me. It has the power to be a catalyst for change, every garment has the potential to push boundaries of fashion and art whilst inciting dialogue. Also, when you look good you feel good and this is the experience, I wanted to invoke in every woman who wears Vanessa Gounden. Designing clothes for confident; powerful women, was a natural fit for me,” Gounden says.
Vanessa Gounden is a woman’s luxury fashion label with global distribution. The line encompasses a range of casual, cocktail, formal and haute couture clothing.
Handcrafted in the finest luxurious fabrics, embellished with hand painted buttons, beading and embroidery, Gounden combines original artworks and photography to create highly visual contemporary individual prints. Her signature style which combines bold prints and patterns with innovative tailoring techniques, such as 3D layering fused with Gounden’s ebullient spirit, passion for social issues, love of art and innate creativity come together to give us what she calls “artivism”.
With a strong sense of citizenship and responsibility, Gounden is committed to uncovering and sponsoring new artists as well as train and employ craftsman, tailors and seamstresses in fine skills. Vanessa Gounden London has empowered over 300 people mostly in the manufacturing sector in South Africa and has its own atelier and print house.
“When we launched Vanessa Gounden in the United Kingdom back 2011, there were cynics who told us our brand would struggle on an international stage, but we pushed on anyway because our vision was bigger than their limits. In the same year, we bought our flagship boutique fashion store, D’Oré in Sandton City. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but eight years later we are still here having a blast and creating clothes that embrace the power of women,” Gounden says.
Artistry and techniques used in Vanessa Gounden London creations have revived textile skills and provided employment to both local and international artisans. In 2014, Gounden was awarded the Mbokodo Award from the South African Department of Arts and Culture for Design and Innovation in South Africa.
She says female-led businesses are continuing to grow in South Africa, despite 2018’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) statistics showing that only 6.2% of South African women take the leap into entrepreneurship.
“It is not just in South Africa either. You look at Silicon Valley in the States, Digital Innovation Hubs in Europe and within our own continent, more and more women are the powerhouses behind some of the newest, innovative start-ups and concept businesses. Women are either stepping up to lead big businesses or are creating their own empires in various industries, a true testament of the boundless phenomenon that is women.
Outside of the Vanessa Gounden brand, Gounden is also CEO and co-founder of the HolGoun Group, which has interests in Mining, Healthcare, Financial Services, Lifestyle & Leisure, Property, Music and Movie Production.
Having grown up under apartheid South Africa in Kwa Zulu Natal, Gounden intrinsically understands the emancipating power education can bring to young people and the nation at large. The HolGoun Development Trust that has educated over 100 under-resourced students over the last seven years and donated reading material to children across the country.
“It is through books and the power of my imagination, I was spurred on to aspire, believing that anything is possible. At Vanessa Gounden, we push beyond our own limits and embrace all things feminine. The bright and vibrant colours are a reflection of our passion and provocative narrative,” Gounden concludes.