ABOUT DESIGNER

DesignerSandra Mushale launched her first Collection in February 2011 in Toronto. Sandra was   born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and was raised in Zambia. She went to Lwitikila Girls Secondary School in Mpika, a town in the northern province of Zambia. Sandra always loved fashion as she comes from a family of designers and fashion entrepreneurs. She understands quality and believes every woman deserves a quality handbag at an affordable price.

Sandra Mushale Bags is strongly embraced in Toronto Canada, where her unique creation and her use of quality materials have proven to be a force of desirable fashion trend. Sandra's phenomenon designs is seen in the United State of America, the UK and Africa.  The Sandra Mushale Brand which started in Toronto is rapidly becoming a worldwide known brand.

 


 

The Journeys of Sandra Mushale

It’s a long way from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in central Africa, to Toronto, Canada. And when Sandra Mushale arrived in her new home as a refugee, in 2002, she didn’t know what direction her life would take.

But Mushale had already experienced plenty of uncertainty in her life. At the age of 10, she and her family were forced to flee the DRC for the safety of neighbouring Zambia. She completed her secondary education there, at Lwitikila Girls School. It’s a Catholic institution whose motto is “Enter to learn and leave to serve” – and for a while, Mushale thought she would become a nun, like her teachers.

“Every day we went to mass,” recalls Mushale – who doesn’t look much like a nun in her little black dress, accessorized with a scarf and earrings. “So when I finished school, I went to a convent. After staying for three months, they send you home to rethink. I realized that I liked the community work – but I thought I was more ‘me’ as a ordinary person than as a nun.”

Instead, she immigrated to Canada, and upon arriving, found herself in a refugee shelter in downtown Toronto. “I went to school,” she says. “I took a six-month program to become a personal support worker. After graduating, I also did palliative care.” After that, she thought about becoming a nurse, but decided to pursue her studies in social work. She went to Toronto’s George Brown College, where she recently graduated as a qualified community worker.

Mushale’s commitment to helping others runs deep – but so also do her entrepreneurial spirit and her lifelong fascination with fashion. In particular, she loves handbags. “Back home in Africa,” she points out, “I knew all about Versace and Louis Vuitton, and all those famous brands. And when I came to Canada, I became a collector.”

However, on her limited budget, all she could afford were knock-offs – and she soon became disillusioned with them. “Even a small amount of money is too much for something that is not real!” she states. “If you’re carrying a knock-off, it doesn’t give you any confidence – because you know it’s fake.”

That’s when she was inspired to create her own handbags. She launched the Mushale Collection Brand, and for the last three years she’s been creating designer handbags. She credits her family with giving her the right background to rise to the challenge: her mother is a businesswoman, she has an aunt who is a fashion designer, and an uncle who designs appliances.

Since 2011, Mushale has produced more than 20 distinctive designs, and has sold her bags in North America, the UK and several African nations. “They have my own unique personality and culture,” she says, “and there’s an African sensibility to my work. At the same time, she’s proud that the materials are all Canadian: the leather, the linings and the metal.”

As her works gains international recognition, Mushale hopes for greater things to come. She’s launching a new line of handbags under her own name. “I’m making my bags smaller,” she says. “They’ll be very classic, neat and clean.”

It’s all part of her mission to create handbags that are stylish, useful and empowering. “I think women are an amazing contribution to this world,” Mushale declares. “And a handbag completes a woman.”

The author is a Canadian journalist who has written for the New York Times, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, and many other publications.