Noni Gasa is an entrepreneur and communications specialist who firmly believes in passion and purpose. The University of Johannesburg graduate started her career as a part-time features writer while completing her final year of a journalism degree. “My then boss, Justine Stafford, offered me a full-time position as features editor at Seventeen magazine after graduation and that’s where my passion for fashion journalism started,” she says.
Building A Brand Name
Noni has over 15 years of experience in the fashion, media and marketing industries. She established herself as an editor for women’s magazines early on in her career and it was the world of print which led her to fashion, where she developed strong relationships in the industry. Noni then became a prominent television personality, before moving on to be the public relations manager for Woolworths South Africa. And her career continues to soar.
Leadership For Women
Even in leadership roles, and with her impressive résumé behind her, Noni doesn’t consider herself a leader. “I still see myself as a team player, do-er, problem-solver, heavy-lifter and small-stuff-sweater,” she says. She also admits that she has unpleasant days where imposter syndrome affects her and she has to remind herself why she started and that it’s okay not to have everything figured out.
Cultivating African Fashion
Noni is a director and co-founder of the Design Academy of Fashion, one of 12 global fashion institutions to collaborate with Italian luxury brand, Gucci, as part of the Gucci Design Fellowship Program, which works to expand the fashion footprint of Africa. She’s passionate about the creative economy and the next generation of African storytellers, designers, artists, thought leaders and change-makers, who are redefining the continent’s unique identity. Approximately three out of four employees in the local clothing and textile sector are women, according to Noni. But she says, “the fashion industry structure is bottom-heavy. Most of the women are factory workers or in labour-intensive roles, not positions of leadership or ownership,” she says. “I’m excited to see more women open their own businesses, launch their fashion brands and be appointed to head up big retailers.”