UPON her arrival in the global fashion capital, Paris, Mahadi Granier knew she had to take African fashion designers to a new level.
Born and bred in Lesotho’s capital, Maseru, Granier left Lesotho for Johannesburg in 2000 to pursue her postgraduate education at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. When she left the institution, she had attained an Honours Degree in Computer Science and a Postgraduate Diploma in Management from the Wits Business School.
Granier was born on 25 July 1978 as a second born to Mr and Ms Ntoamoe in a family of three children.
For a woman her age at the time, she thought this was the beginning of life but she later learnt that she needed to do more.
She started her early childhood years at Maseru LEC Primary school, followed later on by her higher education at Morija Girls High School. She graduated from Junior Certificate with Merit, the only student to achieve that pass rate in her school that year.
She subsequently completed her COSC with a first class pass in 1994. From 1995-1999, she then studied a Bachelor of Science at the National University of Lesotho, majoring in Physics and Computer Science.
Between 2002 and 2015, Granier has worked and lived in many countries including South Africa (Cape Town and Johannesburg), Canada (Toronto), United Kingdom (London), United States of America (New York and Connecticut) and now France (Paris). Prior to leaving South Africa in 2015 for Paris, Granier worked as a director for the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa, within the Industrial Development Division.
Ganier moved to France along with her French husband and two children now aged six (boy) and four (girl) and pursued business.
She has also worked for the Western Cape Provincial Treasury in Cape Town as an Economist.
Granier also has extensive private sector experience obtained both in South African and overseas, holding various business management roles across several multinational companies. These included Airbus (Toulouse, France), General Electric (Belfort, France), Hatch Goba (Canada, United Kingdom and South Africa) as well Turner and Townsend (Johannesburg).
“Between 2008 to 2010, I moved to Grenoble, France where I pursued a Masters in International Business at Grenoble Graduate School of Business,” she said
In September 2015, she founded KHALALA, which incorporates her passion for Africa, fashion and entrepreneurship.
“When I arrived in France, I was shocked at how exceptionally under exposed African fashion designers were despite the fact that Africa has no shortage of creativity. Africa accounts for a mere 1 percent of the global fashion industry, which is estimated at $2, 4 trillion (M).
“We are exceptionally creative people with so much diversity. For me, it was about how I get into an industry that has the potential to raise the living standards of people where the majority of women work.
“I then came to a stark realisation that the sector is part of the African solution. Promoting our own heritage and culture positively influences the world to invest, study and visit Africa. Fashion has become an excellent tool to put a spotlight on African creativity and to paint a different image of the continent that is not reduced to poverty and animals. “Granier said.
She said this was how the idea of Lesotho Fashion Week was born.
For the past three years, Granier has worked towards building the African fashion industry into becoming a force to rival other developing markets.
Her efforts are geared towards elevating African fashion from a series of spectacular runway shows to a legitimate industry.
“It is a vision fully realized in South Africa, but much of Sub-Saharan Africa is struggling to accomplish.
“Lesotho is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa without a fashion week. Due to lack of this formal design showcase platform, the majority of aspiring and exceptionally talented fashion designers migrate to neighbouring South Africa to showcase their creations. In turn, this has bled the creative industry and it has been saturated with artistic expression but remains despondent due to the absence of market access,” Granier said.