By the age of five, Mabel Banda-Khonje had already established links with the fashion world.
Thanks to her late mother who signed her up in beauty pageants and fashion shows as she grew up in Zimbabwe. With little wonder, the young Mabel was crowned Miss Alfred Beit High at the primary school she went to.
That was to be her first brush with a fashion accolade and recognition among many as she grew up. Khonje was later to be crowned Miss Environment, Miss Lilongwe and eventually second princess during the 2003/2004 Miss Malawi beauty pageant.
The experience she got while participating during the numerous pageants eventually saw her join the organising team for the Miss Malawi competition after graduating from college.
Not feeling contented with her contribution, the 37-year-old set up a modelling agency called Vogue Events, which didn’t take long to fold-up as things did not work out well.
That setback was not going to discourage her passion though. In 2007, Khonje launched a lipstick line Doll Mabel Matte which proved to be a success but the dynamics on the market didn’t sustain it for long.
“I started real big and went all out but I made huge losses because I did not do enough research so I decided to put it on hold for a while,” said Khonje.
Last week, she announced her latest fashion adventure through the establishment of a lingerie line Boudoir By Doll Mabel. The fashion line was officially launched on Thursday at WestCord Fashion Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she is currently based.
She said: “I get inspired by people who are able to create works of art from everyday objects and around it. My mother is also my other inspiration.”
During the launch, Khonje said one of her biggest objectives is to encourage women to feel good and confident about themselves while working on their attitude, mindset and improving their self-care and empowerment.
“It is not about reshaping the body into what the industry or the media says is sexy. This lingerie line is encouraging women to feel good for what they are and experience that sexiness while being comfortable with what they wear,” she said.
Khonje said she intends to underline her brand’s tag as a global venture by making sure that her fashion accessories are available everywhere in the world, including here in Africa.
She said she is looking forward to learning and tapping into experience from others to improve her business.
Khonje plans another launch of the lingerie line in Malawi.
“The stock is already available for purchase in Malawi. Right now, the focus is to make it accessible in other African countries.”
“We don’t have a lot of lingerie options in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania. That is my goal,” she said.
The introduction of the lingerie line excited people going by the comments which flooded her Facebook page.
Nitta Lee wrote: “Beautiful pieces. That is the way to go Mabel…”
Brenda Swazi also wrote a congratulatory message and urged her to make sure the brand is available in Malawi.
Monalisa Gwarawaza commented: “Wow! This is too nice. Congratulations.”