PEOPLE may see her as the successful fashion designer but Brenda Quin has her fair share of struggles, just like every other successful person in the world.
Starting from her childhood, Quin had to work as a child to help her mother with things around the household and that groomed her to be this world recognised fashion guru.
“Growing up we had to collect plastic bottles that we could sell to earn some cash. I also had to weed gardens for extra cash and that made me realise that I was destined for greater things because I didn’t dwell on what was happening then but rather I focused on the future, which is what have been driving me all these years,” she explained.
Quin also revealed that she didn’t go to school to study fashion, saying: “I learnt the hard way because I was never trained for it and the only thing I had was business knowledge, which I think actually helped me because I understood the business side of fashion and I was able to make it.”
She said that her road to success started in 1996 when she went to the bank to borrow R10 000 to start her fashion line, which was then called ‘Cats’.
“The reason I started with that name was because I was a professional dog trainer and a German Shepard breeder. It was a job that required me to work 24 hours, which caused so many problems with the family that my husband ended up asking me to change careers,” explained Quin.
She said the name came about when she did her first show and one of her associates in the industry said “from the show ramp to the catwalk”, prompting her to name her line ‘Cats’. However, as he business evolved, she decided to change her fashion line from “Cats” to “Diva”, saying: “As I developed and grew in the industry I decided to use the hotter, more sort of used trendy name, which was Diva.”
She also revealed the challenges that she’s come across in her journey.
Quin started with direct marketing all around the country, travelling with a trailer full of clothes. After doing that for quite some time, she then hired 32 agents to do it for her as it was becoming too much work to do all by herself.
The self-taught fashion diva then opened her first shop, in 1998, at the Heritage Market in Hillcrest. From there on she opened four more shops. “After 18 years of running my shops, my children said it’s time I come back home to spend some time with my grandchildren and I closed all of the shops,” she said.
After she closed her shops, she then ran her factory but was behind with rent and she had to work day and night to recover the amount of money she was owing, saying: “I had made a bad decision and it backfired. I lost everything, and it required me to start all over again.”
Quin said that having a very loyal staff helped her get through all her challenges because they’ve been with her for 20 years.
“When I was going through the rough patch, they actually said that they will come to work for no money, until I get back on my feet.”
“My staff are like family as we spend a lot of time together,” she added.
Four years ago, Quin moved her factory home, with the help of her staff, to try and recover what was lost.
“I managed to settle my debt with my landlord for the factory that I had to shut down and I started supplying local stores,” she said.
Despite all these challenges, Quin has achieved a lot in life. She showed off her line in Rome before the president of Malta, at the London African Fashion Week, at the Durban Fashion Fair, Durban July and MTN Fashion Week. Quin has also dressed Miss Universe and South Africa.
In parting, Quin said that, with hard work and determination, anything is possible.