“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s expression is embodied by Ouma Tema, a Gauteng-based businesswoman who continues to make a name for herself in the fashion industry.
Tema (32) owns Plus-Fab, a fashion outlet targeted specifically at plus-size women. She has become one of the most sought-after plus-size fashion designers for fuller-figured women in the region. For Ouma, this journey started out of sheer frustration with the availability and variety of clothing on offer in stores for fuller-figured women such as herself. Her determination and drive saw her creating a multiplicity of garments that fellow plus-size women were eagerly waiting to see in stores. This achievement is one of the major reasons behind Tema’s daily motivation: “I am who I have been waiting for”.
Plus-Fab continues to grow from strength to strength, and Ouma is delighted about the future prospects of the business. She shares that she is looking forward to “growing Plus-Fab’s footprint in South Africa and abroad. Presently, I’m excited about opening our online store to Africa in July, and the US at the end of the year. We are also working on new product offerings to the brand, for which more details will be made available early in 2018.”
Aware of the challenges facing the fashion and other industries in South Africa today, Tema expresses that if she magically could, she would do something to safeguard the integrity and value of locally-produced brands by protecting products made in South Africa from counterfeits. She is of the opinion that “we cannot — at this stage — sustain or create more jobs if our products are not protected. Worse, in our own country.”
Plus-Fab’s contribution to the economy is noteworthy as the business has created and manages to sustain 18 permanent jobs. The business successfully operates in some of South Africa’s biggest regional malls, and Tema finds joy in the fact that the business successfully owns the design and production value chain.
For Tema, it is important to be driven by passion. “Money will always come. Your craft and passion is the real magnet to the money you want. I am living proof! Not that I have a lot of it,” she jokes. — Simphiwe Rens