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For Women’s Month we are profiling inspiring women who are making a difference in Africa. In keeping with the theme of #makeithappen we’re bringing you one woman a day for the entire month –innovators, creatives, entrepreneurs and influencers.

As the founder of SA Fashion Week, Lucilla Booyzen explains her mission to develop the creative industry in South Africa.

ELLE: Tell us about your current job and how you got there

In the late 80’s I went to London, Paris, Florence and Munich with a group of South African Fashion Buyers as a show producer. It was on this trip that I realized that we needed a Fashion Week in SA - a marketing platform where the designers could show their collections to the media, the buyers and their top clients.   In 1997 SAFW established itself as the only fashion hub of its kind in Africa. It continues to grow, such as through pop-up shops for the collections, an online store and different educational programs.  Even now, I continue to focus on the development of the creative industry in South Africa. I have also conceptualized and initiated the Fashion Fusion program, where fashion designers collaborate with crafters to create their collections.

ELLE: Any calming mantras you say to yourself? 

I don’t use mantras. Instead, I usually find a quiet space within myself and focus on that.

ELLE: What’s you power outfit? 

I believe that the power (if you want to call it that) lies within - not in the clothes you wear.  The way one chooses to dress enhances what lies within.

ELLE: First thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I listen to the birds.

ELLE: Highlight of your career so far? 

I am very fortunate because my career has been filled with highlights. For example, being presented with the Shoprite Checkers Woman of the year Award was a great honour for me and so was the CEO Magazine’s Most Influential Woman in Business and Government Award. On a different level, I also negotiated so that the Designers could be included in the SAFW EDGARS DESIGNER CAPSULE COLLECTION STORES as part of a sponsorship. That was an incredible achievement for me personally.  Every time a designer supplies another store or opens a new store, it is a peak moment for me.

ELLE: Biggest hurdles in your working life so far, and what have you done to overcome them?

Finding sponsors that understand the power of fashion in South Africa and how important the creative design industry is for the economy of this country.   We do not all have televisions, we don’t all drive big cars or go on holidays, but we ALL wear clothes. For me it is a no brainer - invest in something that is a must-have for everyone.

ELLE: This year’s women’s month theme is #makeithappen – what does that mean to you?

Understanding that you can make most things happen with hard work and keeping your focus on the end goal.

ELLE: If you could send one tweet for women’s month, what would it say?

Every thought has the power to manifest itself, so be responsible with your thoughts.

ELLE: Being female in Africa means…

Being an example for everyone around you on every level all the time, irrespective of what it takes. 

What do you think makes an ELLE Boss?

You have to:

  • Be a good communicator
  • Inspire and engage with your team
  • Lead and allow others in the team to play a meaningful role
  • Be passionate about what you are doing
  • Build relationships all the time
  • Work incredibly hard
  • Have staying power and see things through
  • Put your ego in your pocket

ELLE: 3 personalities that inspire you?

Miuccia Prada, Vivienne Westwood and Donna Karen.

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