Designer Leah: Covid-19 changed me

Leah Mubwandarika

Tafadzwa Zimoyo
Senior Arts Reporter
United Kingdom-based fashion designer Leah Mubwandarika says the Covid-19 pandemic has “galvanised” her to work for the community.

She recently received a Bravery Award for her tremendous work as a nurse during Covid-19.

In an interview, Mubwandarika revealed that she was inspired to give back to some local communities after the coronavirus pandemic took hold last year.

She said Covid-19 affected some of her projects.

Mubwandarika, whose brand is known as Leah African Designs, said her experience working under Covid-19 situation had opened her heart and gave her lessons that love conquers all.


“We are in difficult times and we should love one another,” she said.

“Covid-19 is real and my purpose in life has not been fulfilled. I thought of the less privileged communities back home and how they are surviving, it touched my heart. After noticing deaths of friends due to Covid-19, this changed my mindset.

“I want to give more with what I can afford. Last year I was about to take part in some international fashion shows, but was affected by the Covid-19 global pandemic. I am now focusing more on philanthropic work.”

Mubwandarika last year set up a foundation in Zimbabwe, but it has not been functional due to lockdown.

“I have managed to source some shoes, facemasks, gloves and food among other things, which are set to be donated to some of the local communities like Mbare, Epworth, Hopley Farm and Mabvuku,” she said.

Mubwandarikwa said she has teamed up with designers and fashionistas in the United Kingdom to source some donations for the locals, which can help in this difficult time.

“We have even sent some of the stuff which will be received by my foundation management,” she said.

She advised that those staying at home should look after one another with a positive mood, whether they test positive to Covid-19 or not.

“On all this, there is an issue of mental health which is being side-lined,” she said. “Always check on mental health by staying active, whilst encouraging others to do the same.

“Do exercises and always eat healthy. I encourage people to be active and always wear masks and stay safe.”


Mubwandarika said she was continuing with her design work despite Covid-19.

“I am still doing my designs in the backyard,” she said. “I am also into fashion consultancy and have helped some of the locals and celebrities in the diaspora. I do it virtually.

“Fashion is my passion, it is just that the industry has been affected, but we should remain strong and practise at home so that we stay relevant and in touch.”