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By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

SA brands reigned supreme at 2023 Miss SA pageant

Homegrown luxury brands showcased entrepreneurial excellence at recently held pageant.

Local luxury brands ‘took up space’ at the 2023 Miss South Africa pageant, held in Pretoria, on Sunday.

While the crowning of a new queen was the royal highlight for many, the ultimate win for SA’s business landscape was the showcase of home-grown entrepreneurial excellence – as local brands ‘cemented’ themselves alongside global fellow sponsors Sun International and Mercedes Benz.

Apart from beautiful ball gowns by local designers, the new crown might’ve been the belle of the ball – a proudly South African diamond-studded head piece paying homage to African heritage.

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Entrepreneur’s lifelong dream

Designed by local bespoke jewellery brand Nungu Diamonds, the crown, named “Mowana” (Tree of Life), was made with locally-sourced and polished jewels which were chosen for the regal affair.

Managing Director, Kealeboga Pule, who co-founded the company in 2013 with his wife Ursula Pule, said the company’s partnership with Miss SA marked the realisation of a lifelong childhood dream.

Pule told The Citizen he grew up watching the Miss SA pageant, looking up to the likes of Basetsana Kumalo and Peggy Sue Khumalo, hoping to one day design the country’s most beautiful crown.

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‘Making it happen’

Fast-forward to 2022, with a wealth of diamond industry knowledge and experience, the Pules approached PR Specialist Zandile Nzalo with one ultimate task – securing a contract with the Miss SA organisation to design the 2023 crown.

“We want to [design] the Miss SA crown, please make it happen,” said Pule recounting his specific request to Nzalo, who quickly set the wheels in motion.

After multiple meetings with Stephanie Weil, CEO of Miss SA organisation and her team, Nungu Diamonds secured a three-year contract to design the Miss SA crown annually.

‘SA will decide’

When asked if the company would design a new crown every year, Pule said it would all depend on how well South Africans receive the current crown.

“We could design three crowns… or we could keep [the current one] if South Africans like it,” said Pule.

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The diamond entrepreneur further said that if Mzansi approved, the company would stick with the current crown, but would make minor changes each year.

Pule said the final call would be made by his partner, who’s the “creative brains” behind Nungu Diamonds.

‘Working with what we have’

Pule told The Citizen that establishing a luxury brand was never the main goal, instead, Nungu Diamonds’ primary aim remained to provide clients with a bespoke diamond experience – showing potential buyers the true value of diamonds.

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“Diamonds are mined in SA and must be celebrated,” said Pule.

Urging South Africans to support local businesses, Pule said “this will lead to the Utopia we all dream of… exporting more than importing.”

“Let’s work with what we have,” Pule concluded.

Celebratory companions

What’s a ball without toasting to the finest champagne?

Mzansi’s newly crowned queen and her distinguished guests may never have to find out, all thanks to the House of BNG, Miss SA pageant’s official celebration partner, who kept the bubbles flowing.

Founded by SA media personality-turned-entrepreneur, Bonang Matheba, who also doubled up as the event’s MC, the House of BNG is a locally-made Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) sparkling wine, birthed in 2019 through Matheba’s collaborative efforts with Cape wine-make Jeff Grier.

READ MORE: Bonang proud as House of BNG partners with Miss SA 2023

The luxury brand’s origins stem from the Western Cape wine region – making Matheba the first African woman to become a member of the Cap Classique Producer’s Association.

Fired up

Local energy drink MoFaya was also among the list of main sponsors.

Co-founded by Sibusiso Leope (DJ Sbu) and Siphiwe Shongwe, the energy beverage has become one of SA’s most recognisable brands since its debut in 2013.

Shongwe said in a media statement that MoFaya’s partnership with Miss SA was a “natural fit” based on shared values.

“MoFaya has set it’s business ethos around encouraging the spirit of rolling up your sleeves and making it happen,” he said.

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“We’ve had a blast working with the Miss South Africa finalists, who are passionate and dynamic young women, making it for themselves, and wanting to give back to their communities.”

Equally thrilled with the partnership, Miss SA CEO Stephanie Weil said the organisation was delighted to have an “innovative and passionate” brand such as MoFaya come on board as a sponsor.

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