Clothed In Strength

Our first Jewel In His Crown is a fashion designer mogul mum making a name for Christ in retail fashion in South Africa. By Tamsyn Cornelius

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At age 39, Pranitha Sahibdew is a creative soul; a quiet-natured yet resourceful woman of influence who wears many hats as a mum of two boys, namely Sean-Paul and Sebastian, a business owner and fashion designer. Together with her fulltime pastor husband Nitesh, the pair is also actively involved in their local congregation at newDAY Church in Edenvale Gauteng.

As a fashion designer and entrepreneur with her own clothing label, Exodus Original, Pranitha honours God through the design of beautiful clothing, from everyday contemporary attire to bespoke Haute Couture.

“My brand is extremely clean cut; less is more is my motto…”

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From as early as she can remember, Pranitha has always had a calling toward fashion. She recalls a time as a young child, rushing back to her Pietermaritzburg childhood home after school to dress up in her fancy Sunday clothing. From age 13, she took matters into her own hands and decided to tailor her own clothing.

“I decided to sew my own clothes to ensure that I had a new outfit every weekend. I also tailored my school uniform so that I felt dressed; I loved the feeling of being complete in an outfit,” she explains.

As a teen, Pranitha also began a close personal walk with God which she carries into adulthood. After graduating, she began a career as a retail buyer but God quickly redirected her path towards her first love – fashion design. Six months into her career as a buyer, the Lord spoke through Proverbs 31 with a clear message to Pranitha about what she should be doing.

“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers, (Proverbs 31: 18-19). “She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes,” (Proverbs 31;24). These are the Scriptures that resounded in Pranitha’s heart – and ultimately changed her path forever.

Pranitha therefore established her own label, Exodus Original, which launched as a fashion show at a church fundraiser. “My label has huge meaning”, she explains. “What I loved the most is how God always speaks to us through Scripture.”

Scripture again spoke to Pranitha and influenced the name of her label. “Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest,” (Exodus 28:3).
God had even orchestrated the unique selection of colours for her business logo. “Have them use gold, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen,” (Exodus 28:5).

“I felt God being very specific about the direction I would take regarding my fashion being Haute Couture. The colours stood out to me and so my logo is gold, purple, scarlet and blue. I often get asked why I would choose these colours together, or where I got the idea, and it’s great to testify that God has His hand in every single detail of our lives, our business and our career paths.”

What started as a passion with the sale of tops and hand painted handbags at a flea market, has since developed into a full-blown career and is a testament to the goodness of God. “Today after 19 years, I now supply a very popular retail store.”

“I felt God being very specific about the direction I would take regarding my fashion being Haute Couture.”

As a student, Pranitha designed for Guess at the Cape Town Fashion week and she further designed a dress for the Breast Cancer Association, which was featured on Top Billing. “These are some of the highlights of my career,” she admits.

Today Pranitha supplies Young Designer Emporium (YDE) owned by Truworths and she feels that her entire career and work are a ministry to women. “My prayer is that they feel confident, secure, and beautiful in my garments. Women are wired differently; if we look good, we feel good, and we are able to take on the world. In my offices, I try to create an environment that is gracious. I often pray that my clients, suppliers and staff experience Christ through Exodus Original.”

“My brand is extremely clean cut; less is more is my motto. I have a very simple yet chic and posh approach,” she adds.

As a local designer, Pranitha faces many challenges and pressure from international trends and brands. “One of the struggles local designers face is the impact that imported clothes and brands have had on us. We in no way can compete with the prices of that market. I would love it if that changes. My dream for SA is that we are able to bring back our textile industry again and successfully manufacture our garments, restoring jobs for our CMTs.”

Pranitha understands that keeping up with fashion trends is very important in the industry. She gives us a sneak peek into upcoming seasonal trends: “I am currently working on Spring and Summer 2017. This season is all about vibrant colours, vivid tropical patterns and print. A lot of the design and colours are nature inspired which we will call ‘organic’ colours.”

Pranitha continues to be one very busy woman. She recently worked on a dress for Mrs Africa for the Mrs Transcontinental pageant in Atlanta Georgia, and she continues to find new and innovative ways to express herself through her work and fashion line.

“From the outside, it looks very glamorous but it is not an easy career,” she says. “A lot of hard work goes into it.” As encouragement for any aspiring local designers, Pranitha says: “Let your passion and love for fashion get you through.”

For more visit Exodus Original.

This interview was first published in The Christian Lifestyle Magazine.

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