All things adulting,  Career,  Lifestyle

Meet Yamkela who puts the refined in Refined Revolt

Refined Revolt is a beautiful little textile studio founded back in 2015. They are not just bag makers they also design and manufacture gorgeous clothes with their custom textile prints. All their products are handmade in their East London studio in Eastern Cape and their raw materials are locally sourced so every purchase helps create employment and empower South African youth.

Tell us about the story behind the name Refined Revolt?

When I originally started my brand it was targeted to plus size wear, I hated the draped tent like clothing shops tended to have for the big ladies that hid their bodies and weren’t particularly appealing nor fashionable. I wanted classy and sexy clothing that made you feel good about yourself and forget about your size and I’m not talking about skimpy revealing clothing and that’s where the Refined Revolt began and it has since evolved.

What ignited your desire for design?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have never wondered what I want to do with my life, I have loved design since I was a young lady making skirts out of leaves and here I am today same girl different material. I would honestly say I got the opportunity and privilege to walk the path my mother couldn’t in her time, she loves fashion and wanted to be a designer but because of the time she lived she couldn’t so here I stand.

What have been some of the challenges in setting up your business,especially getting word out?

My main challenge has always been equipment, acquiring the correct machinery is key because the quality of my product is my biggest priority. Once the product is 100% than the people come and that’s my goal, creating a product that’s speaks for itself. In terms of getting the word out social has made access to potential clients so easy although most of mine come from referrals.


Would you say there is enough support for young entrepreneurs –whether private or from government?

Yes I would say there’s plenty of support although I don’t agree with the structure of some of the systems in place to access this funding. This is obviously taking into consideration that businesses differ therefore so do their needs, the agents handling this distribution have no business experience and sometimes can’t offer the required assistance understandably.  

Please share with us some of your thoughts on the creative economy, can one make a decent living from tapping into your passions?

There’s always room for more because the creative industry is fundamentally about problem solving, exploiting and creating opportunity. Creating a need and this becomes a cycle.

How would you describe your design aesthetic in three words?


What are some of the myths people believe about running your own design label

  • That’s it’s the easy
  • It’s all passion (it takes much more to run a business)

    What have been some of your highlights?

I’ve won some awards for my work and I consider those highlights cause after all my hard work it’s like a “ Well done young lady” and I think a part of me needs that validation, that appreciation, not that the money is not enough but I can’t describe the feeling. The international shows have also been a blessing, to travel and see the world through my work is a major highlight for me having been to various countries.

How important would you say social media is to your business strategy?

Detrimental! I’m obsessed even, because the reach is monumental and access is easy and extremely wide.

What advice do you have for budding designers?


If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be and why?

Maria Chuiri, Craetive Director of Dior, because I love everything about the brand and would love to pick her brain nje kancinci

What is the one thing you do not mind splurging on?

Shoes and gadgets

Who is your woman crush Wednesday?

The Queen Mother

What are your currently reading or binging on?

I’m reading “Smart Retail” by Richard Hammond

What are the three things you cannot live without?

I don’t like it but my phone


My work (the process)

How would you describe a life well lived?

A lack of deep regret for tries never taken.


I would like to thank Yamkela for her time, if you were inspired or would love to own a custom Refined Revolt don’t forget to visit her site.

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