Maria McCloy Talks About Her Family & Her Brand….

I couldn’t come up with a label name, Afro-Accesories? Ausi Accesories? Podesta? Maria Podesta like the Joe Nina 90’s Kwaito song? Zenana which was the name of the ancient women’s palaces in my beloved Rajasthan India? Nothing seemed right, so I figured why not just use the name Mathabo and Jim came up with for me, after all when people see my earrings, clutches or clothes they do say ” Is that a Maria McCloy?”

I’ve always been an accesories addict. My mother says as a child I always loved the market in the places my English dad / Mosotho mum family lived after I was born in the UK (Sudan, Nigeria, Mozambique) before them and my sisters and I settled in Lesotho and going to St Anne’s boarding school in Natal and Rhodes University (to study) Journalism in Grahamstown South Africa before moving to my beloved Johannesburg and making my urban culture and media dreams collide into a dream come true company with my friends Kutloano Skosana and Dzino remember urban culture bible Bassiq and Street Journal on TV? Outrageous Records that was home to Zubz, H20, Pebbles and Optical Illusion, Reason started there and we created the second ever SA Hip Hop Compilation Expressions as the gendre bending Coca Cola Collaborations CD.

Anyway, the more things change the more they stay the same. I was born an accessories freak.

I remember when my Dad took me to buy a watch as a 10 year old I had remove an armful of bracelets first. The day my mum’s friend put an Indian dot on my forehead settled my love of all things India. I already had my own capulana round my little wasit in Maputo. Pretty dresses from my English grandma, cobbled stone shopping sprees in York with my great Auntie; super Seshoeshoe skirts from my Mosotho Nkgono at my mum’s village Makgoaneng. On UK holidays I had a particular attraction to the shops filled with Indian beads where you could make your own earrings, and as much as I liked the high street shops I loved Oxfam’s second hand wares too. I grew up amongst kids from all over the world at primary school, I had gorgeous stylish neighbours who influenced me too: The half US half SA ones who brought the latest hip hop tapes and tales of Vogue, Elle, Bennetton and Esprit; Ugandan and Liberian ones with awesome cloths and culture. I lived in a house decorated with African sculptures and rummaged in cupboards of collected cloth…

So all of this resulted in what we have here now Maria McCloy Accesories. Whilst running Black Rage Productions I went home to Maseru for the weekend, and met Ntate David Makoae near the Maseru market , there were lots of copper wire earrings baout, but his were special, better made, lovely. “make me some but mine must be muccch bigger” “Your ear will fall off Ausi”. I returned to Johannesburg, where Mokgadi Itsweng , current True Love food editor, saw my earrings at her then restaurant, ordered a few pairs and took them to her friend Nkhensani, who owned Stoned Cherrie. I started stocking Stoned Cherrie, Sun Goddess and Mantsoe and started selling the earrings to colleagues and my music and media industry people. Soon the earrings were in magazine shoots on the lobes of Lira and today you will have seen Zaki Ibrahim and Simphiwe Dana rocking them…

Soon I had found enough vintage clothes and bags for my own wardrobe, but I kept finding great stuff. SOlution? sell to your friends. Take clothes round to peoples offices and houses. After starting at a monthly craft market in Newtown with earrings and vintage bags I started at the hipster trendy once a month Deer Hunter vintage market in Greenside now with a rail of clothes too.In January 2011, a day after my super rocking 35th birthday bash, I was part of the opening of Market On Main in the super fashionable down town re imagined Maboneng Precinct ( which is where you can find me every Sunday from 10am to 3pm . That year I had to create a media gift for a Congolese movie called Viva Riva I was doing publicity on as a sideline to my PR day job at VIMN Africa (MTV Base, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET) I came up with a branded African print clutch and a new part of my line was born. In 2012 this evolved to mens and womens shoes covered in African print, garnering me more attention than ever: the clutches were featured in all women’s magazines like True Love, Destiny, Cosmo, the high point being an interview on CNN Inside Africa and a Play magazine cover ! And that was aside from features in Elle Decor, House and Leisure and The Sunday Independent ….

Source|Maria McCLOY