Maseru – Watching his grandmother designing and tailoring left an indelible mark on Hulisani Sengani.
Although he was just 11 when she died in 2010, she had already made a lifelong impression on him. Now, more than a decade later, Margret Ndanganeni Sengani’s grandson is making waves in South Africa as a model, fashion stylist and actor.
The man behind Soigneer Styling Services attests that it has not been rosy. After all, not many African communities will back a boy who wants to become a model.
“Most of my family elders grew up doing hard labour and it’s hard for them to understand my chosen path as well as the potential. So, I pretty much support myself in this whole process,” Hulisani told The Southern Times Arts.
“I have always had an eye for styling and coordinating outfits. I started styling my friends in high school and they were happy about the outfits. After high school, I went to Gauteng Province in 2019 to further my studies and that’s where I learnt about fashion styling and modelling. I researched and started joining modelling competitions and styling people professionally,” he said.
So comfortable is he in the space that last year he was nominated in the Mzansi Arts and Media Awards for the Best Male Model category.
Although he did not win, he was ranked in the top five finalists and was also casted as one of the male runway models for the Thohoyandou Fashion Week 2020.
The whole experience got him the attention of Miss South Africa 2021, Shudufhadzo Musida, who tweeted: “All your dreams are valid” after seeing some of his work at the Thohoyandou Fashion Week.
Last year he also won the Best Style in South Africa during a competition run by Style ID Africa on Instagram.
While several events have been disrupted by Covid-19-induced disturbances, Hulisani hopes to soon grace international runways.
“I am hoping to cast for International fashion shows and also get a chance to style celebrities in the near future. The fashion scene has been booming since the beginning of the pandemic. Many shows were cancelled in Limpopo but the Thohoyandou Fashion Week survived. Many fashion brands actually grew during the lockdown and designers now have the time to focus on their work.”
Although he has already achieved what he never imagined, he is under no illusion regarding the hard work that he must still put in.
“Being in the fashion industry being from Limpopo is a fantasy. People do not really believe in wearing designer clothes in my area what more needing a stylist. These are some of the challenges that I face because I have to change people’s mindsets.”
And he has some advice for aspiring stylists and models too.
“Stay in school, plan your life correctly. Study and understand exactly what it is that you are supposed to become and then go for it,” Hulisani said.
He also opines, the African household must start supporting children who choose careers in fashion and modeling if they are to achieve their potential.
“My advice would be for African families to pay attention to their children’s dreams because they do not have any idea how far in life those ideas can take them. Just like Cassper Nyovest said: ‘It doesn’t matter where you come from, success doesn’t need a Visa’,” he said.