What happens when you take a woman with a unique perspective on bag design and couple that with a strong commercial head and desire to succeed? Sherene Melinda is a South African company, that specialises in all sorts of luxury leather bags – from clutch and crossbody to tote and multiway. We caught up with the owner at Africa Fashion Week London 2015.
Sherene told us, “I have always had a good eye when looking for new designs, especially for unusual and unique pieces. Having spent many years living in London I have always felt that African inspired fashion has a place here. It certainly does for me”.
Given that she runs her designer handbag store from the UK, we asked about which designers in particular had influenced her taste.
“London based handbag designer Anya Hindmarch is a great inspiration to me. She has a very successful multinational business and produces beautifully crafted handbags”, Sherene explained. “I admire all those small and relatively unknown talented and real craftsmen and women that can be found working completely independently, sometimes from the street corner, dotted across the world. They are often not exposed to the pool of creativity as a result of globalisation that we are exposed to in London and yet their results are sometimes incredible”.
We’ve asked about her influences, but design is all about originality. So what makes Sherene Melinda different?
“My designs are a fusion of my roots in South Africa and my cosmopolitan lifestyle here in London”, she told us. “This makes my style unique and attractive to many different people for different reasons”.
Her customers certainly won’t struggle to find a matching shade. Sherene Melinda designs come in a broad range of colours, including royal blue, baby blue, yellow, red, burgundy, purple, pink, rose, burnt orange, lime green, black, natural and sandalwood. As a customer, you will be expected to look after your purchase – every bag comes complete with a dust cover to protect it when not in use.
Africa Fashion is constantly surprised to find designers that don’t make full use of social media in the 21st century. In that respect, Sherene Melinda is fully engaged on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
So what is she hoping to get from Africa Fashion Week London 2015?
“It is an incredible opportunity to showcase to a directly relevant audience being the biggest show of its kind. I look forward to networking with other like-minded people at this spectacular event”, she explained. “I’m looking for greater exposure, more contacts in the industry, inspiration and of course more business!”.
She then told us how she sees the future, where she sees the brand, “I’d like to have a really successful multinational business offering desirable handbags that are unique, fun and very special”.
We wanted to know more about the woman behind the brand. Things like her fashion and food preferences as well as music and other influences.
“I am a functional practical person but also love a bit of glamour. Mixing casual and couture works for me, “she said. “But when it comes to chocolate, the darker and more serious the better”.
“I love rock music, but prefer it with an African twist”, she said. “And travel is important to me, the more unexplored the better”.
“Growing up, my biggest influence was my father. As an adult, it would have been amazing to spend time 1-on-1 with Nelson Mandela. His wisdom and humility were one of a kind”, she said.
“In the world of design, there is so much male domination that I always find myself admiring female designers that make it”, she told us. “as well as Anya Hindmarch for her handbags, I also like seeing Kate Spade, Vivienne Westwood and Victoria Beckham succeed. Naturally, I would very much like to see more African designers succeed at international level”.
We asked Sherene to finish on a positive message for young African talent.
“Do not underestimate the potential that surrounds each and everyone one of you. The real competitive advantage you have as an individual is by finding a way of placing your life into the context of the rest of the world and by doing this you will find your niche for success”.