MAG founder Andile Mdakane is a content producer by day and entrepreneur and accessories maker by night.
MAG by Andile Mdakane is a range of urban African accessories inspired by the Adinkra symbols of the Akan people of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. A self-confessed 'chronic researcher', she first fell in love with the ancient symbols when she read 'Indaba, My children' a book about African tribal history and folktales written by Credo Mutwa. It was at that moment that she began to do intensive research on African symbols, their meanings and how they relate to African history. Ten years later, she found herself in a space where she could conceptualize ways to bring these symbols to life: 'There are so many symbols, so I just wanted to create a way for us to live with them daily.'
Equipped with just her passion for symbols and an idea, she began a process that took a lot longer than she anticipated, 'I thought it would take about a month and just two or three sessions but the product development took two years, it was quite a painful process,' she adds. Andile makes use of perspex and traditional Shweshwe material, and combining the two turned out to be the most difficult part of the process: 'I had so many tearful sessions because most glues would come off because of the heat from the laser. I used every type of glue that I could find and none of them worked. I finally found someone who actually makes glue. So the lesson in this is that there is someone who is passionate about everything in this life, including glue.'
Having finally completed her product development with the help of the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI), she went on to create accessories inspired by 6 of the 46 Adinkra symbols, adding the meaning of the symbols on the packaging of each of her products.
Calling it her 'labour of love', she puts in eight hours a day to create each collection, in addition to her full time job as a content producer. She reached her first major entrepreneurial milestone when her accessories made their on-stage debut as part of Craig Jacobs' showcase at the 2016 Menswear Week. Proving to herself that she is indeed moving in line with what her brand name stands for 'My A Game'.
The future holds many favourable things for this enthusiastic entrepreneur, including the addition of more Adinkra symbols to her collection, as well as creating employment for young black women which is something that she speaks of with much fervor: 'I come from a small town in KZN so I am aware of the issues that people face and I think we have to be there for ourselves and for each other and as long as we have that in mind, we will prosper'.
According to Andile, the most valuable lesson that she's learnt is 'to pursue the idea that you have because there are a lot of ideas but they remains just that if you don't pursue them. Take your time, be patient and use your social capital.' Indeed!
MAG by Andile can be purchased online and at 30 on Marriot Designer Boutique in Durban.