Miss Universe SA's upmarket fashion label was born out of financial strain

Beauty queen Natasha Joubert tells us the empowering story behind the start of her Pretoria-based couture business

23 April 2021 - 07:00 By Toni Jaye Singer
Natasha Joubert, second runner-up of Miss SA 2020, will be representing Mzansi at the Miss Universe pageant in May 2021.
Natasha Joubert, second runner-up of Miss SA 2020, will be representing Mzansi at the Miss Universe pageant in May 2021.
Image: Supplied/Miss SA

“I absolutely love empowering women through the clothes we create for them,” enthuses Miss Universe SA Natasha Joubert, when asked what her favourite thing about owning her own fashion brand is.

“You can see how their eyes light up; their whole body language changes during their final fitting, and that’s something you get to do for them, you get to make them feel beautiful.”

The designer, who’ll be representing Mzansi at the Miss Universe pageant, launched her Pretoria-based label in 2016. Called Natalia Jefferys, it specialises in couture for special occasions like matric dances and weddings.

Interestingly, the idea of empowerment through fashion runs through the story of how this business came to be. More specifically, it’s the story of how Joubert’s mom, Ninette, empowered her daughter to be able to do something she loved despite strained financial circumstances.

Joubert explains that she’d been competing in modelling competitions since she was a child and that, in order to do so, you need a fairly extensive wardrobe of pricey evening wear.

When she was 13, her father lost his job and her family could no longer afford to kit her out for these competitions. Undeterred Ninette found a way to make it happen: she'd have a bash at sewing the glamorous gowns her daughter needed herself.

As the teenage Joubert’s interest in fashion grew, she joined in her mom’s endeavours, both dreaming up dress designs and embellishing the finished articles. These were special times: “We’d work late into the evenings together in our home’s garage,” recalls the beauty queen.

Other young women started to admire the pair’s handmade creations. “They asked if I could start making outfits for them as well, and Natalia Jefferys was born,” says Joubert.

Miss Supranational SA Thato Mosehle models a Natalia Jefferys gown during Miss Universe SA Natasha Joubert's virtual fashion fundraiser, #DestinyDesigned, in April 2021.
Miss Supranational SA Thato Mosehle models a Natalia Jefferys gown during Miss Universe SA Natasha Joubert's virtual fashion fundraiser, #DestinyDesigned, in April 2021.
Image: Supplied/Indirect Media

Why name the company she runs with her mom, Natalia Jefferys? There’s a touching story behind that too.

One of Joubert’s “very creative” childhood friends wrote a book when they were teenagers. She based the characters on real people, changing their names, but keeping their initials the same. In its pages Joubert was dubbed Natalia Jefferys.

When Joubert was registering her fashion business, her friend reminded her of this and suggested, “wouldn’t it be cool if you named your company Natalia Jefferys?”

Joubert agreed. “I really love the name; I feel it’s such an easy one for people to remember,” she says.

The striking garments Natalia Jefferys creates are certainly hard to forget. This is something we’re sure the Miss Universe judges will note when they see Joubert sporting one of her own custom designs during the upcoming pageant on May 16.

Check out Miss Universe SA modelling some Natalia Jeffery's creations:

• The Miss Universe pageant will take place in Florida in the US on May 16 (2am to 5am on May 17 SA time). The reigning Miss Universe, SA’s Zozibini Tunzi, will be in attendance to crown her successor.


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