After recently conducting his masterclass at the Fashion and Beauty YouthX Live event, luxury fashion designer and YouthX changemaker Rich Mnisi aims to continue sharing his knowledge with the young people of South Africa...

A multidisciplinary fashion designer and creative at heart, Mnisi’s journey began when he was a young boy who explored and drew inspiration from his mother and family. After just five years of building the RICH MNISI brand, he has now become one of the leading fashion designers in South Africa and continues to grow globally. The RICH MNISI brand is aimed at connecting his culture and heritage by telling a compelling story through his designs.

With youth unemployment on the rise, Nedbank partnered with Mnisi and other leading changemakers to put the power back into the hands of the youth by launching the YouthX programme. As part of the programme, Mnisi will share his journey, tips and advice on how to build a business and find success in the fashion and beauty industry. Powered by Nedbank’s Unlocked.Me platform, YouthX was also created to give the youth the necessary tools to help them unlock their full potential.

Below are some tips from Rich Mnisi on how he found success in the fashion and beauty industry. But first, the award-winning designer shares his thoughts around YouthX and his involvement in the programme.


Tell us about your involvement in the YouthX programme and how your journey has been so far.

Well, I am the fashion and beauty changemaker. The journey has been fulfilling; I have learned a lot from my fellow changemakers. Being allowed to share my knowledge to help the youth is truly humbling. 

Knowing what you know now about YouthX, do you wish there was a programme like this when you were younger?

Yes, I would have been glued to the screen all the time. It’s such a powerful platform. As a young up-and-coming creative, the information shared could have helped me to avoid many mistakes along the way. I fully encourage Nedbank to continue having such a platform because I have learned a great deal.

What and who inspired you to become a fashion designer?

I have always loved fashion. The desire to create a space that embodies an authentic expression of gender fluidity through an African lens and the complexities of identity inspired me to start the RICH MNISI brand. Furthermore, I looked up to my mother and my family, as they inspire me. As I evolve and the brand RICH MNISI becomes bigger, I aim to enhance expressions of lived realities and storytelling, as I come from a family rooted in the rich traditions of the Vatsonga tribe. 

When did you know that this is the path you wanted to follow? When did you start taking it seriously?

For me, identity and authentic expression matter. I’ve had a fascinating journey so far. Growing up as a black African child, I found familiarity with ‘queer expressions’ in an environment that did not necessarily understand that world. To become the Rich Mnisi that I am today, I’ve searched, discovered, and live in the realm of gender fluidity. The opportunity to study fashion exposed me to a world of possibilities.

What made you start your own business, and what would you say has contributed to your success so far?

It’s the idea of family, community, and creating a legacy! Most importantly, to keep my family name alive. RICH MNISI is a global brand in a country that’s committed to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. We are constantly finding creative ways to respond to the market’s challenges and the legislative framework that governs our business practices both locally and internationally. Our track record as RICH MNISI has illustrated our commitment to finding the balance between sustainability and growth. We have learned from our partners BCI Cotton – we try as far as possible to use ethically sourced materials and focus on improving the lives of the people and communities directly involved in our production line.


What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a young African designer? How have you overcome these?

Some of the challenges that I’ve faced include transparency, traceability, and being measurable as a socioeconomic contributor in the places in which we work. We overcome challenges by being a socially conscious brand. Of course, this comes with an understanding of the global movement. That pushes us to increase industry standards, and to tackle responsible business practices across multiple elements of the supply chain.

How do you manage to stay relevant in this industry? And how has this contributed to your success?

In all honesty, anyone who wants to be part of this industry cannot afford to be in ‘wait and see’ mode. Times and markets are constantly changing, and you need to accept these changes while learning to adapt. Having come to terms with our new normal, we needed to change our approach by reimagining our baseline requirements by turning our attention to our customers while elevating and taking their experience to the next level.

Given your experience, what advice would you give to young fashion designers or creatives who look up to you and want to achieve what you have achieved?

My advice to them would be: be consistent, be persistent and learn as much as you can from other creatives.

What keeps you going during the hard times? And what have you learned about yourself?

In my business, I have learned to adjust. What we have also learned is to take full advantage of our consumer patterns and their behaviour. We have had to learn to settle into this new normal. There’s no going back to how it was anytime soon – that is why we have had to learn to do things differently.

What can we expect from the RICH MNISI brand in the upcoming months and years?

I don’t want to give away too much. All I’m going to say is – there’s more to come!

In closing, what is your mantra?

I live by Beyoncé’s song ‘Bigger’. ‘If you feel insignificant you better think again … You are part of something way bigger. Bigger than me, bigger than you.’

From afar the fashion and beauty industry might look like it’s all glitz and glamour, but there’s more to the industry than meets the eye

If you want to learn more from Rich Mnisi and other YouthX changemakers (Sho Madjozi, Amanda Dlamini, Theo Baloyi, Candice Chirwa and Rivo Mhlari), visit the Unlocked.Me YouTube channel by clicking here Unlocked. Me – YouTube.

To keep up with the conversation online, follow the below social-media pages to stay connected, get the latest updates and learn more about YouthX.

In your comments, please refrain from using offensive language and unnecessary criticism. If you have to be critical, remember – it must be constructive.

1 Comment

  1. Sheron

    I look up to you Mr rich and I’m proud calling you as my role model


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