There are some people who need no introductions because of how they package themselves.
One of those extraordinary minds is Lorraine Kljajic who can easily tell you her mind through her sense of fashion,
She is a fashion icon, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded Lush Africa Foundation.
“I was born Lorraine Mopiwa in Malawi and raised in Tanzania. Currently, I reside in South Africa and married to a Croatian. In addition to being a businesswoman, I a promote fashion, beauty and culture.
“I founded two initiatives under the Lush Africa Foundation: Miss Culture Global, Miss & Mrs. Culture Malawi and The Africa Fashion & Arts Festival,’’ she said.
After graduating from Kamuzu Academy, she got a diploma in legal studies, degree in information technologies and professional and a marketing diploma.
Lorraine started Lush Africa as an entertainment firm in 2014, initially offering talent management, music distribution and event management services in Malawi.
In 2016, she expanded her operations in South Africa and reached Eswatini in 2018.
The organisation was registered into a foundation in 2021 to serve creative industries of Africa more effectively.
Her motivation is the passion for growth and success of the creative sector.
Lorraine believes in providing financial and mental support to the practitioners, ensuring they receive every help to thrive.
She also conducts business seminars and provide mentoring programmes for young people in their career development.
Miss and Mrs. Culture Malawi is a beauty pageant that gives opportunities for young women to showcase their talents, promote cultural diversity and empower participants through personal development and leadership opportunities.
The initiative emphasises cultural pride, confidence building and community involvement.
The pageant also serves as a platform for young women to gain visibility, develop public speaking skills, build self-confidence and contribute to social causes.
She said: “We foster camaraderie and networking among participants, creating a supportive community of like-minded individuals. I come from parents of different cultures and nationalities. My father is Malawian and my mother is Zimbabwean. While growing up, I travelled to different countries and this made me understand the vital role culture plays.
“Culture can be a unifying agent, tourism booster and an identity. I created the pageant for women to be proud of their culture— whether it’s language, food, clothes or music.”
Lorraine observed that the notion by society, about women in the beauty and fashion sector being, immoral is subjective and stereotypical perpetuated by societal biases and misconceptions.
She added that these beliefs do not reflect the diversity and individuality of the people involved in these industries.
“The beauty and fashion sectors encompass a wide range of professionals such as models, designers, stylists, makeup artists and photographers. Just like in any industry, these individuals have their own unique values, beliefs and moral compasses.
“Morality is a personal and complex aspect of an individual’s character that cannot be determined solely by their occupation or industry. It is unfair to make sweeping judgments about the moral character of individuals simply because they work in beauty or fashion,” she said.
Lorraine said it is crucial to challenge and overcome stereotypes and biases that unfairly target individuals based on their chosen profession.
Instead, she said people ought to be treated with respect by recognising their achievements, contributions and evaluating them based on their actions rather than preconceived notions about their industry.
Since Miss & Mrs. Culture Malawi is also an empowerment programme, it gives scholarships and land for prizes sponsored by Exploits University and Innobuild
In 2015, Lorraine received the Future Leadership Award from Techno Brain in Kenya in recognition for her work.
In 2020, she was recognised as Africa Fashion Promoter of the Year at an event held in Nigeria.
Lorraine has been nominated for the Women Iconic Awards in Fashion and Beauty in India.
Next month, she will be receiving an Honorary Award for her dedication to promoting and supporting young women in the fashion and beauty industry in Nigeria.
“These awards hold significant personal and professional meaning, they serve as validation that I am on the right track and encouragement to continue my efforts,” she said.
When it comes to innovations, beauty and fashion in Malawi, the entrepreneur said there are several changes that could benefit the industry’s growth and development.
Lorraine said sustainable practices such as using eco-friendly materials, adopting ethical manufacturing processes and promoting fair trade is an area that can have a positive impact on the environment and society.
Said Lorraine: “Collaboration and networking among professionals in the beauty and fashion sectors can foster creativity and innovation. Creating platforms for designers, models, stylists and other industry stakeholders to connect and share ideas can lead to the development of new trends and opportunities.”
Talking about the future, she said fashion and beauty pageants have potential for growth in Malawi.
“In recent years, there have been an increasing interest in fashion and beauty in many African countries, including Malawi. This interest has been fueled by the rise of social media which has allowed for more exposure and the sharing of fashion trends and beauty standards across borders.
“To further develop the industry, it would be essential to focus on several factors such as infrastructure and industry support. Well-equipped fashion studios, training centres and venues can help foster the growth of the industry,” she said.
Lorraine also said investing in talent development programmes, workshops and training initiatives can help aspiring models and designers enhance their skills and knowledge.
She advocates for the promotion of local brands and designers using locally made products to boost the fashion industry.
Through her initiatives, Loraine also hosted a women empowerment conference called Glamorous & Glorious which featured successful women in various fields as role models.
By highlighting achievements and sharing success stories, she said these events motivate young girls to dream big and strive for excellence in their chosen endeavors.
Lorraine said: “We featured motivational speakers and activities that promote self-confidence, leadership and personal growth. We also included educational sessions on various topics such as career development, mental health, self-care and gender equality.
“By raising awareness and providing information, we equip girls with tools they need to make informed decisions and navigate their paths successfully. We provide opportunities for girls to connect with like-minded peers, mentors and industry professionals. Building a supportive network can foster collaboration, mentorship and lifelong friendships, creating a sense of community and support.”
Lorraine’s journey challenges include competition, rejection, criticism, financial constraints, balancing creativity and commercial success.
She said the industry is highly competitive with many talented individuals vying for limited opportunities.
Standing out and making a name for can be challenging and she has seen people copying ideas and failing to execute them perfectly.
However, having a supportive team—the Lush Africa Team and sponsors— has greatly contributed to her journey and success in this industry.
She admitted that balancing her career is not easy, but she thanks her husband for supporting her career financially and mentally.
“He understands that I sometimes need to travel a lot and the hardest decision is opting to stay in South Africa to manage my business while he stays in Saudi Arabia,” she added.
To girls in Malawi who aspire to have a career in beauty and fashion, Lorraine said just like any other career, they should follow their passion.
She said they should pursue it wholeheartedly and remember that passion is the fuel that will drive one towards success.
“Embrace one’s love for beauty and fashion and let it guide your career choices. Embrace creativity because beauty and fashion are outlets for creativity and self-expression. Dare to think outside the box, experiment with new ideas and develop your unique style. Embrace the opportunities, learn from the challenges and stay true to your passion,” said Lorraine.