Melanie Bosch Interview

‘ I make clothes for real women, so I often use my friends as models’

Melanie Bosch, 37, lives in Douglasdale and works as a marketing specialist. She runs clothing label, Bosch Girl. I’ve always dreamt of starting my own clothing label, but it has taken me 19 years to turn my hobby into a business. I travelled after finishing school and applied to study fashion design in Holland, but my plans changed because I didn’t qualify for a student visa at the time. Instead, I came back home to South Africa and took a casual job at a clothing store, slowly working my way up to area manager.

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I’d hoped it might lead to something more creative, but it didn’t. I still learnt a lot though; from the day-to-day operations of running a business to how to interact with customers. I’ve always loved making my own clothes, and while my retail career didn’t involve fashion design, I continued to sew and create my own outfits in my spare time. I’m mostly influenced by the fashion of the ’40s and ’50s, like wide skirts, printed fabrics, and swing dresses.

With my previous sales experience, I landed a sales job in the banking sector in 2010. I could finally afford to fund my fashion design studies, so I enrolled part time at fashion design school, LISOF, where I studied design, pattern making and sewing. My studies took up every Saturday for the 18 months it took me to complete the course, but it was only in January of this year that I finally set my business plan in motion. I made a couple of skirts and started wearing my designs to work, where other women expressed interest in them. Soon I was setting up stalls at local markets, where I’d sell anything between five and 30 pieces of clothing in a day.

I named my clothing label Bosch Girl after myself, as I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. Most evenings and weekends are spent on my business, and I often wake up early to work on my drawings, because I still work full time at the bank. When I feel a bit stuck on a design, nothing clears my head and gets the creative juices flowing like going for a long run outdoors.

My mom, Marietha, who is an amazing seamstress, recently started helping out with the sewing of the garments and I don’t think I’d be able to do any of it without her help. I still sell at markets in the Johannesburg area, but I have set up my own online store, too. In the future my classic vintage style will evolve, but will most likely continue to be inspired by my favourite eras. I would really love Bosch Girl to become a well known South African brand that people are excited to wear.

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