Meet the Founder

Suraya Williams, is an entrepreneur, community builder and feminist- who is inspired by the potential of young women.

It all began with the dream of a mother and the vision of a daughter. 

My mother was a designer and one of the best dressmakers in our area.  I, however, growing up and no interest in dressmaking. When I left school I got a corporate job and I was happy.  However, in 2006 my mother died. In the aftermath of dealing with my mother’s death, and inheriting her sewing machines,  as I sought out a way to be close to her. 

Designing my first dress like an out-of-body experience I didn’t know if it was me or my mother through me.  The dress came out quite beautiful and I was surprised as I do not have any qualifications in dressmaking and design. I loved my corporate job, I liked the bosses I worked with,  however, ever since making that first dress I felt unfulfilled at work. 

I told my husband how I felt and with his support and encouragement, I left work and began my own clothing line Design 26.  I made some clothes and I sold the clothes I made. Every year I would donate address to an underprivileged matriculant. During my time Stellenbosch Business Schools’ business management course I learnt that ‘before you are charitable you need to be profitable’.  In 2010 stopped donating dresses. 

I continued to sell clothing and matric dresses. During the consultation, altering and garment making process I grew to care for the girls whose dresses I designed.  I would make calls early in January checking on the girls. I would ask them about their night and how they were doing. Often I would hear that they were at home and unemployed or had were pregnant. 

I shared with my husband that I wanted to do something. That I wanted to make an impact in their lives – not just by providing them with the dress for one night but being able to impact their entire lives. 

This is how the Design26 Foundation was born.