If you follow Lufuno Sathekge on social media you will agree that she brings positive vibes, beauty and the knowledge of God to your timeline. She is a stylist to the stars and a mother to a beautiful boy we have come to know as Vlad.
We speak to her about her career in fashion:
She didn’t even know one could have a career as a stylist. The first time she saw something related to styling was when Marie Claire had a competition where the winner would be part of the magazine’s styling team and Sunshine Shibambo won. Lufuno was fascinated but made nothing of it.
Fast forward a few years later, she joined one of the biggest radio stations as a producer and everyone would tell her she dressed well. She would then meet Jeff in the corridors and together they started documenting her looks for lookbook.com
Jeff and his partner hired her to style their first shoot at a professional studio, and she winged it, successfully. She still didn’t take it seriously as a career.
Years later, she became the stylist on V entertainment (now canned) dressing the likes of Denise Zimba, Lalla Hirayama, Dineo Langa and Nomuzi Mabena among others.
Lufuno describes her journey in the industry as amazing. “I often look back in awe of the journey, the people I met, the looks I created, the productions and artists that trusted and continue to trust me with executing their visions. It’s a great vocation in that, no two days or productions are the same, which is challenging creatively and exciting as well.”
“Being recognised as a styling OG by Nike for Air Max day and being on billboards was mind blowing and so affirming for me.
Winning an award for Best Styled music video that the duo I styled claimed as their own 🤦🏿♀️ story for another day. And just making a living from my passion for over 10yrs is major” says the gorgeous creative when asked about her career highlights.
I then ask her about the challenges of her chosen industry and she mentions that most people like the idea of being styled but also don’t understand the value of the job. “They have such big visions but don’t reconcile the cost to their vision. They think it’s an easy job that anyone can do so when you send a rate card it’s met with eye rolls, and negotiations which is so frustrating. They think it’s a hobby. And also some people are disrespectful and condescending. Lots of egos, especially in the celebrity styling side. Some befriend you to try and score free styling services. That is why although I know a lot of famous people, I’m close to just a handful.”
One of Lufuno’s consistent styling jobs Massive Music on Mzansi Magic hosted by Smash Afrika and Pamela Mtanga has been cancelled and that is a loss of income for not just her but a production team. She says she is managing by the grace of God. “It’s a big loss because that was the steadiest source of income in this field. Guaranteed payment, monthly and on time. Freelancing is hard because payments can be sporadic and it’s hard to control that no matter how hard we try. My life is about to change a lot because I don’t believe in keeping up appearances. I’m re-strategizing and moving things around in order to realistically live within my means. God has continued to provide, with projects here and there. I’m grateful, but also aware that I need to do more. So I’m working on my more.”
We speak about the love of her life and her face lights up, Vladimir, the son. “That boy saved my life. I didn’t think I wanted kids. In fact I was quite sure that I’m happy just being the cool aunt. I was even in denial about my pregnancy. As he grew inside me, I knew I was carrying someone special and when he arrived, he proved that. He is the funniest kid. So kind and extremely empathetic. We always laugh that he’s an old man because of how intuitive and self aware he is at just 3yrs old. He’s also quite headstrong. But very loving and makes all who encounter him smile. I mean, he literally turns heads wherever we go. I feel like a bodyguard. He’s honestly the best thing to ever happen to my life”.
Her name directly translated means love and so we talk about love! If you know her you will agree that she is the embodiment of her name; warm, loving and always with a king word. She jokingly says she is love on legs. “I wouldn’t say love changed me because it is me but I can say love has helped me change people’s hearts. I’m generous, honest and genuine with the love I give. I believe in love in action and that has taught me a lot about the type of person I am and how I treat people. I know that without love, nothing matters. So I lead with love and let love lead me. I give it not necessarily to receive it back, I give it because it costs me nothing and if anyone misuses it, that’s on them. Love is God.”
She is Jewish (Lemos) by birth but raised as a Christian. Her fondest memories include reading the Bible for her grandfather under the lemon tree and reading to her grandmother while she was battling cancer. God’s word has always been a source of comfort to her and her family.
Lufuno has lost out on work with big brands because of her unwavering faith and daily Christian posts. “I realised that God is using me to minister in my own way. It’s not the easiest journey. I know I’ve lost potential campaigns…I’m ok with that. I’m not ashamed of God. I wouldn’t be anything or anyone if it weren’t for God’s grace and love. So I’ll always advocate for that connection. I’m a better person for it. Everyone that encounters me can attest to it.”
Being the person that she is, open and honest about her wins and struggles, she recently shared a post about a tumultuous time in her life and we talk about it further. “ I’m living through my most challenging period in my personal life and it’s like everything is falling apart. Everything that can go wrong has. Other days I’m happy and optimistic. Some days I just want to curl up and cry or take long naps. It’s hard, it’s growing, it’s revealing. I’m aware that I’m in transition. I’m learning to lean into and surrender to the process. I have no doubt that I’ll emerge from this an even brighter light. So I’ve learnt to take things one day at a time. Moment to moment, that’s all I have a bit of control over. Everything else is in God’s hands…”
Things come and go and so the time she describes as challenging, will pass. Fortunately she is optimistic. “I pray a lot. I watch sermons and read scripture. I exercise. I watch Korean dramas. I look at videos of Vlad and remember that life is simple. That there’s joy in the simple and little things. It also helps that I have remarkable, god-sent friends that somehow always know when I’m a little down and just drown me in their love.”
A Bcom Marketing graduate with a passion for clothes and beautiful things, Lufuno grew up in Soweto where her mother still stays. She would at times spend time in Atteridgeville Pretoria, so I have a good balance of both townships, both places have influenced her life and career. She looks up to her mother and her siblings, describing her mother as her hero for her love and sacrifices. “Our challenges have made us good people instead of angry and bitter people. My mom gave her all so that we could have better lives. She still shared the loaf of bread with the neighbors even when we had nothing. She’s raised amazing human beings and that’s the kind of achievements I aspire to.”
Her advice for aspiring stylists is to just start. “Start with yourself. Read, research, gain knowledge but start. Practice and trust yourself and your style. Growth takes time. But you need to be prepared when the opportunity comes, so practice and have fun while doing it otherwise it’s pointless.
Leave your ego at the door. Work is work ultimately so you need to carry yourself in a manner that shows respect to everyone in your presence.”
Check more of her work on @ll.style.edit. @lufunolove