Mentoring: Virginia Mabaso

The light of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is to penetrate all of society.  And Virginia Mabaso, CEO of Funi M Designs is doing just that in the fashion world. She designs clothing that are culturally inspired, beautiful and celebrative of life for any woman. She pursues her God given goals with a godly passion, simplicity and she trusts God to see the vision through.  Here is our interview with her about her faith and the lessons she has learned about running her own business.

Inside Woman: How did you get to know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour?

Virginia Mabaso: I grew up in a God fearing family, with my late grandfather always praising and worshiping God. When I was young I used to sing along with my grandfather and it was fun.  But when I moved to Venda to start high school, life became tough at home and the only place I could find comfort, love and a peaceful space was in Church. In 1994 during an alter call, I gave my life to Jesus Christ.

Inside Woman: Have you always been passionate about fashion design?

Virginia Mabaso: From a young age I’ve always loved being stylish and looking good. I would buy an ordinary dress and alter it to make it what I wanted it to be.  I didn’t realise then that this will grow in me in a big way like it has now.

Inside Woman: When did you see your passion for fashion design as a viable business?

Virginia Mabaso: In 2003 When I completed college I volunteered in an organisation that had a project called ”Income Generation” for their unemployed clients and sewing was introduced in the group. One day I sat in a session and after that session I knew that I wanted to pursue fashion design.  After a week I bought my first sewing machine and I never looked back. In 2004 I started  taking orders and in 2010 I registered the business and it’s been growing in an amazing way.

[adsenseyu1]Inside Woman: Can you tell us a bit more about your company, Funi M Designs, and your role in the company today?

Virginia Mabaso: I am the creative director and the CEO of Funi M Designs. We are aclothing company that was established in 2010. Our vision is to bring out the cultural diversity through the product range we offer. The diversified lifestyle brand has reached out to the African society through their lifestyle, culture and race all over South Africa. We speak a language of diversity and we create trendsetting timeless designs. Funi M is a brand that appeals to a variety of people in our society.

Our designs are influenced by the different lifestyles, culture and personalities fitting into the urban lifestyles yet still retaining the cultural essence of our different tribes. As culture revolves, we believe that every century brings out a different lifestyle in society and it becomes a daily journey of fashion discovery. At Funi M we design, manufacture and sell hand embroidered sophisticated urban cultural clothing and accessories. 

Inside Woman:  What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?

Virginia Mabaso: 

Step: 1 - I believed in myself and had faith that I can make it.

Step: 2 – I registered the business, with then CIPRO, tax registration, registered a domain and opened a business bank account.

Step: 3 – Fortunately I had studied business administration and management, marketing management and financial analysis in tertiary so I applied my business knowledge into establishing my business.

Step: 4 - Keep doing it, I believe that practice makes perfect.

Inside woman: How did you fund your business?

Virginia Mabaso: When I started the business, I funded the business through my salary. I had a full time job, so the monthly business overheads like insurance, domain experience and telephone I funded those through my salary, but now the business funds itself.

We were also blessed to receive funding for equipment from the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP). This helped to the grow the business as were are now able to take more work and deliver more quality work.

Inside Woman: How has the journey been so far?

Virginia Mabaso: The journey has been wonderful, like in any other business, there are challenges but I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world.

Inside Woman: How do you promote/market your business?

Virginia Mabaso: I promote my business though social media, through our website and word of mouth.

Virginia Mabaso

Inside Woman: Do you think education is important in running this kind of business?

Virginia Mabaso: Yes, I do think education is very important in any business. For me fashion designing was a gift and I had passion for it, and I taught myself everything I know about sewing; however I would like to do a fashion designing course. You know what they say” you are never too old to graduate”.

[adsenseyu3]Inside Woman: Is there ever a time when you feel like giving it all up?

Virginia Mabaso: There are some moments were I feel like my dream is not growing as fast as I have imagined, but giving up is not an option. You see, knowing God, is when you know that no matter how hard life can be, God will show up on time. So I never have thoughts of giving up because I know winners are never quitters.

Inside Woman: What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business? 

Virginia Mabaso: The biggest challenge is penetrating the bigger platforms of the industry. Meaning, for us to showcase in those bigger platforms, I have to have my own store or supplying 5 stores, but my store is a work in progress.

Inside Woman: How does your faith help you when you are faced with challenges?

Virginia Mabaso: To know God is an amazing thing. You understand how God works and you learn to be patient with him. While I wait on Him to turn the situation around, I am also busy taking necessary steps, not matter how small they are, to position myself for success.

Inside Woman: What sets your business apart from others?

Virginia Mabaso: We strive to produce better quality material and great finishing touches. 

Inside Woman: Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

Virginia Mabaso:Sometimes I receive a design while in Church or while I am meditating on the Word of God. I have to draw it immediately before I forget it. I am also inspired by different lifestyles, culture, personalities and the diversity in South Africa. 

Inside Woman: If you knew early on in your career what you know now, what would you do differently?

Virginia Mabaso: I would acknowledge the fact that my dream is bigger than me and I should trust and bring more people in to grow the vision with me. I would also invest more time and resources on marketing the brand through other media and grow our clientele.

Inside Woman: Do you have a mentor and what role do they play in your business life?

 Virginia Mabaso: I don’t have a personal mentor yet, but I look up to other business women like Basetsana Kumalo, Wendy Luhabe and Khanyi Dhlomo who stops at nothing to achieve their own goals. These women break barriers and build brands and change people’s lives.

I love being a brand that changes people’s lives.

Inside Woman: Share with us two industry or general business related tips that could help other women business owners.

Virginia Mabaso: I would say:

  1. Empower yourself. Opportunity meets preparation.

  2. Work hard and start.

Virginia Mabaso

Inside Woman: What steps are necessary for a woman entrepreneur who wants to move her business to the next level?

Virginia Mabaso: To create a great name, women entrepreneurs need to produce quality work and let her work speak for her.

Inside Woman: Why do you think we need programmes that promote female entrepreneurship?

Virginia Mabaso: It is very important to have such programmes as they help empower women. Back in the days women were not allowed to work, let alone have a business. Now things have changed and more and more homes are headed by females. So if we empower women, we also ensure a great future for our next generation. 

Inside Woman: What do you think is the biggest mistake of would-be women entrepreneurs?

Virginia Mabaso: They believe that things will happen easily and business will grow overnight.  It takes sacrifices and time to be a successful entrepreneur.

Inside Woman: What is your encouraging word to struggling business women?

Virginia Mabaso: I would say, acknowledge your limitations in your field and seek assistance.Stay strong in the Lord and know that God I able to turn any situation around.

Inside Woman: What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Virginia Mabaso: I live by this motto:  failer is not final so never stop believing in you.  If you have the desire to get into business, study the market, find out what would be your target market and define your brand. I believe that nothing is impossible. Get up and do it and never look back.

Inside Woman: How can people get in touch with you?

Virginia Mabaso: Out contact details:

Mobile: 082 928 8377 or 072 393 4750



Social networks: 

Facebook: Funi M

Tweeter:  @funimdesigns