Breaking rules to create new ones seems to be the theme to follow in fashion. We’ve witnessed many clothing brands introduce different styles to their apparel… Who can blame them when there is a whole generation of people to target? Thinksllow.com caught up with the founder of Black Rebel; one brand that’s not afraid to openly go for its niche market.
Penelope Mosa Ward (24) was born and raised in Sasolburg where her love for fashion was inspired by how her mother and sister designed their outfits for different family events. She was exposed to fashion trends at an early age and learnt quite a lot about matching items to each other. The idea of building Black Rebel as a clothing brand came up when she noticed how much attention she would receive on social media. This is mainly the reason why social media is the brand’s primary strategy for promotion. She is not only the founder but also designs all pieces that are released through Black Rebel. Running a business might be the most difficult thing she has ever been committed to but through her dedication and passion everything seems to fall into place.
Q: When and how was Black Rebel founded? What’s the story behind the brand?
A: “It all started when my friends and I used to take pictures every Sunday after church services. We’d post the pictures on our social media pages and we would a lot of followers. I think people generally liked how different we were from each other, in terms of our outfits of course, and also how united we were. At this point I was already working with two local brands Pot Head Clothing and Stitch. With my little experience in the fashion industry as well as my ability to pick clothes, I got together with my friends and started a clothing brand. We called it B.R.A.G (Black Rebel Acting Good) but unfortunately, like many groups, it didn’t take long until we all went our separate ways. “
Q: How did the name ‘Black Rebel ‘ come about?
A:” In 2013 I met with Itumeleng Maliehe and continued with the business. That’s when I decided to change the name to “Black Rebel”. He backed me up, helped me in any way possible and that’s how I could still continue with my vision for the brand. We started with new designs and went on to market them.”
Q: How would you describe your style and how does it influence your designs for Black Rebel?
A: “My sense of style has always been influenced by the late Aaliyah as well as Teyana Taylor. I’ve recently been inspired by Rihanna because her style is similar to both Aaliyah and Teyana. I would describe my style as boyish but with class. I always make sure there’s a different touch to each look noting that they (Aaliyah, Teyena and Rihanna) can shift looks dramatically with ease. This is basically where I draw inspiration for my designs.”
Q: After separating with B.R.A.G, you had to continue with the business on your own. What were the obstacles you faced?
A: “Not having a team is not easy because I’d have to play every role there is to keep the business going. I always have to show up on time at events. Recognition has been an obstacle on its own. The more people get exposed to the brand, the more demand and expectations rise higher. It means dealing with people that expect a lot; sometimes others want their own personal designs. Working with people is always a challenge but it is one hurdle we’ve been able to overcome. Fortunately we know and understand our followers. “
Q: What other plans are on the pipe line?
A: “Black Rebel is the only project I’ve been working on. I would be more than happy to work on any project that could benefit and fast track Black Rebel’s success. The main goal now is to get it out to the people… the streets. At the same length I’m willing to support other local hustlers in any possible way.”
Penelope says she’s Inspired by the success of a local brand GALXBOY which caters to anybody who’s young or old, classy or crazy. The brand has been making major waves on the streets throughout the years, and also scoring itself a nomination in the category of Best Local Brand at the SAHHA (2014). She says working with such a brand that isn’t afraid to take risks and be experimental could definitely give Black Rebel the light it needs. GALXBOY is owned by Thatiso Dube (23) who’s currenty nominated for The Superblist 100 (in collaboration with Vitamin Water).
Facebook: Black Rebel