Based in Lusaka, Zambia, Sekayi Mwila Fundafunda works as a sustainable fashion and innovation management professional. She is also the co-founder and creative director of MaFashio Co. a collective that provides content creation and space for exploring the intersection of fashion and other disciplines.
With a degree in economics and finance, Sekayi consults for a variety of African fashion creatives and writes about fashion, innovation, and circularity within the context of Zambia and Africa.
We asked Sekayi a few questions to learn more about her journey in the industry.
Tell us about your journey with MaFashio Co.
MaFashio was born out of the desire to belong, connect and find community. My sister, Tukiya, and I come from a lower-middle-income home and went to public school in Lusaka. We were introduced quite early to various global cultures and spent copious amounts of time reading and building universes based on the books we read.
To add to this I was a nerdy, lanky, spectacle-wearing girl in high school, with a keen interest in hip-hop and rap and a ferocious curiosity about the world around me. I was shy and bullied throughout high school, despite my tall frame and silently quick wit.
Fast forward to my early 20s and I was still that nerdy girl, this time with an unshakeable love for fashion (emboldened by the fact that our mother loved and made clothes). The idea for MaFashio was born whilst my sister and I sat in conversation on the bed we shared at the time. We somehow drifted in conversation to talking about seeing people that looked like us along our daily commute and wondering whether they felt as alone as we did. Zambia was a lot more conservative at that time than it is today, and made for quite a lonely environment if you were young and weird.
Tukiya was pursuing a degree in computer science at the time and had the technical knowledge for us to create our first blog. We started by taking pictures of people we found fascinating while on our way to and from university in Lusaka, and uploaded the images onto our blog, highlighting what we loved about what our subject was wearing.
In our first year, we grew to cover fashion events in Zambia. We eventually pivoted to personal style blogging and built a business that included styling, makeup, and creative direction. We ran the business and the blog for eight years before deciding to go on sabbatical, because of our evolutions and shifting interests.
‘Solid Gold’ by Tukiya and Sekayi Fundafunda (MaFashio, 2018) in partnership with Orca Deco
How does storytelling help us move towards a more just and sustainable fashion future?
My fascination with storytelling was sparked by the fact that I am from the African continent, working in the creative sector with little interest in the African narrative from the perspective of Africans.
Seeing what storytelling had done for those who had succeeded in having their voices, and more importantly, their causes recognised, I saw an opportunity to craft better stories about ourselves, about Africa – for ourselves to connect to who we are, in all of our multiplicity, and by extension, for the rest of the world. My fascination was shaped by my own experience – feeling at times disconnected from my personal history, and a pressure to assimilate to have a story worth telling – especially on the global stage.
This is important, especially for young people growing up against a backdrop of colonisation and various forms of racial and gender injustice. Without continuous exploration and connection to who we are and what we are about – as these definitions shift – we will struggle to find our place in the world.
My interest in fashion waste comes from living in a country flooded by secondhand clothing. On the one hand, I wondered about the stories behind the individual clothes – some vintage and some fast fashion items worn perhaps once or twice. On the other hand, I was concerned about what that meant for local fashion players who relied on the secondhand clothing industry for their livelihoods – and as we like to say in the Fashion Revolution community – it inspired me to ‘be curious, find out, do something about it.’
That exploration and the crafting of a compelling story can help us connect to the ‘why’ behind more just and sustainable approaches to fashion. It is only when we resonate with something that we feel the need to change things for the better, to take ownership – and this is crucial if we are going to invite others to take on the task of ensuring we have enough resources for future generations.
Tell us about circularity and sustainable fashion in a Zambian context?
I have often found that when we approach the topic of sustainability and circularity, it can be very othering, and elitist. At times, even a little oblivious, especially when we take into account the socio-economic realities of many people living on the African continent today. With this in mind, I would emphasise a much more humble and kinder approach to bringing people into the circular or sustainable fashion movement.
‘Reflections’ by Tukiya and Sekayi Fundafunda (MaFashio, 2018) in partnership with Orca Deco
What is your favourite item in your wardrobe?
This is a tie. Both are dresses. One is a cotton maxi dress my mother made for me – I love how easy it is to wear and I foresee myself wearing it for many years to come. The second is a flowers like milk linen dress (beautifully named ‘Starcharmer Invocations for Leda’) that my sister gave me for my birthday a year ago. It has the most fabulous sleeves. I love how airy the dress is and the fact that the brand produces its pieces in small batches.
If we were visiting Lusaka for a day, where would you take us?
If you were visiting Lusaka for a day I would take you first to the Saucy Mukosa store, where we would browse and shop their latest collection.
I would then take you on a drive to two of my favourite spots, the first being Monkey Pools (to picnic) and the Lusaka National Park ( to watch the sunset). Both these places are incredibly special to me because they are great places to be reminded of the beauty of nature, and what all the fuss is about when we talk about sustainable fashion and preserving our environment.
‘Washed’ by Sekayi and Tukiya Fundafunda (MaFashio, 2020)
What is your perfect day?
My ideal day looks like a picnic by a stream, journalling or playing “We’re Not Really Strangers” and planting a new flower or tree. As well as listening to a podcast on innovation, philosophy or neuroscience. On a day like this, I’d be wearing sandals and a linen dress created by a local tailor, designer, or a brand on the African continent.
Share a few of your favourite Zambian small businesses and brands.
- Images supplied by Sekayi Mwila Fundafunda
- To learn more about Sekayi’s work, check out her website.