Siwe Matshisi, founder of Queencess Creation, makes family her business: she shares her compassion, optimism and enthusiasm for strengthening familial bonds, through her themed clothing range, and by tackling progressive social topics at her events. She won the Yoco Women’s Month Business in a Box Competition, with abundant online praise from fans and people whose lives are touched by her tireless work.
Siwe believes that fostering a happy and prosperous society starts at home, and Queencess Creation aims to make a real impact on the health of our communities by focusing on family bonds. She is also a passionate spokesperson for the brutal effects of unemployment on mental health – Siwe stresses the need for families to come together with kindness and support, embracing life’s challenges without shame.
Where it all started
Siwe grew up in Lynnfield Park in Pietermaritzburg, in a big, happy and nurturing family, which helped shape her confidence and rooted her in the stability of their love, throughout her life. Little did she know how much these special human connections would impact her future calling, giving her the passion and strength to help build other families up too.
After matriculating, Siwe studied Forestry at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and met her husband in George, while completing her internship in community development. After they were married, she got a job where she could, and ended up working in administration for NMMU. Soon, she fell pregnant and moved to Cape Town to support her husband in pursuing his professional ambitions, confident that they were starting an exciting new journey together.
However, Cape Town represents a hugely challenging chapter in Siwe’s story: she was a first-time mom and a new wife, in a strange city where she battled terribly to find a job, despite her considerable qualifications and experience. This caused her to suffer a serious depressive episode, whilst struggling to come to terms with her unemployment and the deep isolation she felt so far away from the world she knew. Siwe says she experienced for herself, what prolonged joblessness can do to one’s state of mind, and knew immediately that she wanted to help others open up about their suffering, so they can also finally heal.
No matter how depleted and overwhelmed she may have felt, Siwe realised that she needed to make things happen for herself – “I never had a smooth time finding my feet, but if I didn’t get up and do something, I believe I would be dead.” Her daughter and her faith were her major inspirations, as well as her husband’s unwavering love and support.
“I’ve always been passionate about beauty and looking great, and that’s where I started. The name ‘Queencess Creation’ was inspired by my daughter: it’s the queen and the princess together. Initially, I was selling mother-and-daughter matching outfits, because I’m very passionate about family bonds and uniting people.”
Her clothing range is stamped with the inspirational word ‘Kuyenzeka’, which means ‘It is possible’ and is taken from Biblical scripture – Luke 1:37. She says, “So, when you look at that brand, ‘Kuyenzeka’, we are declaring all things are possible no matter your situation. I believe you need to speak life over yourself and your family, and your dreams will start to materialise!”
But, just when things were starting to take shape for Queencess Creation in Cape Town, her husband was drawn to Pretoria for an even better job opportunity. So, Siwe had to take her baby and her newborn business, and start all over again. For months, she struggled to gain traction with her label, and even sold sweets and airtime to stay afloat. “Anything my hands could find to do, I would do.” she says.
Connecting people through business
However much her entrepreneurial journey began with matching outfits for the whole family, she soon itched to bring people physically together also. So, she decided to try her hand at planning events that would bring the message of her label to life – while also opening up conversations around vital issues for modern-day families.
“I’m really passionate about family structures and programs that can move the family forward, because for our society to be healthy it starts at home – making the space to not have it all figured out, all the time.”
The events have been a huge success, and Siwe was relieved to realise that it has absolutely been the right direction for her and the brand: “It’s not even about me – I really believe we need a society where people are encouraged. We need to intentionally create positivity around us.” Her business has evolved immensely since its inception, and now Queencess Creation represents so much more than looking good, but also truly feeling great. Siwe says, “I’ve always loved hosting people and organising parties for friends and family – I never knew this thing already inside me, would end up bringing so many people together.”
Her most recent event during women’s month, ‘Breaking Boundaries’, was all about spending a day with women who are driving change in South Africa. Siwe also wanted to celebrate what has already been achieved by African women, and honour our limitless potential, if we allow ourselves to believe that all things are possible.
“I want to encourage every unemployed graduate, or anyone not working in the job they dreamed of, that if you have a skill (it doesn’t matter what), you need to do something. You need to start somewhere and when you start, any movement you make is progress.”
Her plans for the future are to open her own clothing manufacturing facility, where she can create jobs and skills training. She says she would also love to hire more people, to help with organising the events, so she can expand her offering and proliferate her uplifting initiative “in every corner of every province”.
“I don’t know how I got here, but I thank the Lord that I started – that’s all you need to do, you need to take a leap of faith and start. Whatever you believe in, your dreams are valid!”