Palesa is the CEO of the South African Fashion Institute, a mom and a lover of all things creative.

Her professional journey started as an advertising student at the AAA School of Advertising. Her career commenced in the advertising industry and progressed to media (print and radio), local government structures and later into corporate financial services companies where she led the brand development, communications and management of marketing activities. In pursuit of business knowledge, she enrolled in various post graduate business courses at Wits Business School and GIBS.

While occupying the position of the Managing Director of the KZN Fashion Council; a not for profit government funded, Section 21 entity established to grow the clothing, textiles and fashion industry, she had a better view of where the gaps were and what was required to fill them.

Her passion for the industry has seen the birth of the South African Fashion Institute (SAFI). As the Chief Executive Officer of this new ground-breaking movement, commercialising of the designer’s craft is at the core of the strategy and business operations; with a huge focus of unearthing raw talents from the outskirts of SA’s economic hubs. SAFI will endeavor to take the development of the fashion industry into the grass roots and polish the talent into the mainstream economy locally and internationally.

I recently announced that I have been selected as the brand ambassador for SAFI. It is an absolute honour and privilege to be part of such an incredible initiative.


I sat down with Palesa to chat about business, family, parenting and everything in between.

What inspired you to start SAFI?

When I worked for a fashion developmental organisation I was introduced to the wonderful industry and I got appreciate the plethora of opportunities that exist. Being a creative myself I well know the challenges that we have so it was my wish to provide solutions

What do you hope to achieve with SAFI?

We wish to be the advocacy agency that seeks to lobby for resources to assist role players especially designers from previously disadvantaged background 

Have you always known that you would end up working in the fashion industry?

Not at all. Needless to say that I fell in love with it. Hence the birth of SAFI

How did you know that it was time for you to start your entrepreneurship journey?

 Ironically I have always fancied myself as an entrepreneur. So I’ve always had small scale consultancy companies simply as I wanted to have the luxury of working flexible hours and from home to allow me to carry my mom duties too. 

What is the most important lesson that you have learnt about entrepreneurship?

 That it gets lonely and not as fancy as we are made to believe.  The journey is challenging and often one is at risk of giving up and going back to full time employment.

Tell us more about your family?

I am a mother to 3 beautiful children, Solami 21(m), Nelisa 12 (f) and Lulama 10 (m). These 3 keep me going. No matter how difficult it gets, but the promise of getting them a better life is what keeps me pushing harder daily. Both my parents are still alive and I still enjoy their warm embrace and support.  My 2 siblings reside in JHB.

What are the three most important values you want to instill in your children?

That the most valuable asset that one can have is a pure heart. To always do things from a positive place… the rest shall fall into place. 

What is the one most important lesson that you want to teach your daughter?

She must learn to stand in her own power without being arrogant and feisty. That she’s enough. That her strength lies not in her looks but her feminine power of nurturing and the ability to love.

What does women empowerment mean to you and how do plan to empower women?

It means being given fair and equal opportunities based on merit without prejudice. 

What is the one item that every woman should have in their wardrobe?

Hahaha… this is very personal and depends body shape and size… for me it a pair of blue jeans. 


Love B