Women have come a long way from the days of pulling on an old pair of shorts and a high-cut swimsuit, or an oversized t-shirt for their workouts. With the increasing popularity of ‘athleisure wear’, gym clothing is now a fashion statement. Simbithi resident Sally Winter is carving a path in this trendy field with her label: Rush Activewear.

Sally arrives wearing a pair of slacks and sneakers: she orders a filter coffee and burrows deeper into her soft, gray jersey. She has come straight from a session at the gym, which gets us chatting on the (many) pitfalls of conventional active wear. “For me, you should always be comfortable, especially when you exercise. You’re moving your body, so the clothing you wear must allow for freedom. It’s also about feeling good about yourself while you work out.”

After completing her studies at the London College of Fashion, with a speciality in menswear, Sally returned home to Simbithi. She battled to find a job, and decided to start her own business. “I was intrigued by the design, shape and fabrics of active wear, so I thought it would be interesting to design some of my own stuff. I started out with tights and t-shirts, and it took off from there.” Rush Activewear has since evolved into a line of stunning pieces: leggings, sports bras and jackets in exquisite prints.

Since then, Sally has landed a job as a part-time fashion lecturer at the Vega School in La Lucia. She is also finishing her Masters in Education. “Teaching fashion to younger, budding designers has taught me so much.” She thanks her parents for their support in helping her juggle work, studies and Rush Activewear. “They are the bricks of my business!”

The highlight of her business has been being placed in the Kramers Market, a platform for young entrepreneurs in South Africa. “The Market hosts pop ups around the country, and this has been invaluable in growing my business. It gives me the opportunity to build my customer base, and see what my customers like. Receiving positive feedback when ladies wear Rush is the best thing about this, for me.”

Sally has big plans for Rush: “I want to see it grow abroad, and perhaps open my own shop in the near future. All my designs, print and manufacturing are done locally, so I want to showcase South Africa to the world.” Her advice to younger entrepreneurs is to be patient, realistic and expect challenges. “Nothing happens overnight, so you have to be patient with yourself and with the process. It’s almost like progressing through the floors of a high-rise building, until you get to the penthouse. If you keep your energy, and stamina up, you will succeed.”

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