Sjoe!
Fairlady|October 2017

A beautiful pair of shoes with a strong design element does more than finish a look – it starts a conversation. Maria McCloy is one to watch.

Andile Nkosi

Maria McCloy may just be the definition of the African Renaissance woman – she’s almost always busy, with her time split between three solid careers. But more than that, her ‘Africanness’ is the inspiration for her work. She’s inspired by the cultural diversity of her mother’s home country, but transcends southern Africa, drawing from the entire continent.

Given her background, it seems only natural that this would be her approach. Born in the UK to an English father and a Mosotho mother, Maria spent her childhood living in multiple African countries, including Nigeria, Sudan, Mozambique and Lesotho, before moving to South Africa in 1989 at the age of 12.

She showed signs of a strong creative streak at an early age. ‘We are born what we are and don’t change much,’ Maria says. ‘When I was 10, my dad took me to buy my first watch, and I remember having to pull a bunch of bangles off; at that point I was also making my own earrings. On campus, I wore African print and beads. What I loved then, I love now.’

Maria’s work ethic was also evident from the get-go: she started her first business before completing varsity. Towards the end of her journalism and politics degree at Rhodes University, she co-founded a production company, Black Rage Productions, with two friends. It was geared towards creating content centred on urban culture, and operated between 1995 and 2009. She then shifted her focus to public relations in the entertainment industry, with clients that include Bongo Maffin singer Thandiswa Mazwai. She also did the publicity for jazz legend Hugh Masekela’s TV show, and international musicians Toni Braxton and Baby face when they toured SA in 2015.

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