Gateway School of Fashion was launched in January 2008. In the year 2007, Karen Millen (OBE) a well-known UK Fashion Designer and Sheelagh Wright who Heads up Fashion at the University of Creative Arts in Rochester visited Project Gateway.

Thanks to Karen’s financial contribution through a London based Funder, HOPE HIV (now called We see Hope) we were able to revamp and equip the current center as a wonderful training center enabling us to teach Fashion Drawing and Design, Pattern making and Pattern manipulation. Cutting, sewing and completing garments for the industry.


Since 2008 to 2020 we have trained over 250 learners in Fashion Design skills.  Many of these learners have started their own business in the fashion industry, or bulk sewing to generate an income for themselves and their families. 


During 2018 we stated a Year 2 Programme and selected those who were passionate to learn more about Fashion to apply for the Year 2 Course.  This has proved very beneficial to those who are in Year 2 as they are now able to make more sophisticated outfits for their clients.





The following Principles are covered in the Year 2 Course;


  • The Paradigm Shift Business Training Programme and by the end of the year each Year 2 each student knows the basics of running a business. The Course starts with a one day Business game which we find is a very practical way of understanding Business and the difficulties that can be encountered. 
  • Business distinctive – what are they?
  • Understanding markets – how do we target the correct market?
  • Cost and Profits and Pricing – are these correct?
  • Budgets – are these accurate and realistic?
  • Record keeping – how important is this for me to do in my business and what is the best record keeping methods available to me within my budget?




Later in the year they move onto the Module 1 which is a 9 week Course of 1 hour per week.   Year 2 learners go through the Module 2 training programme which is also a 9 week Course for 1 hour a week. 


The learners have the opportunity to enter the Tsogo Sun Sprint held at the PMBurg Race Course and some of our learners spectacular outfits were “tagged” by the Judges.  The students also had the exposure and scope to enter into last year’s Durban July Handicap Fashion Show, one of the most prestigious fashion events of the year in South Africa. This allowed our learners who attend these shows to gain experience and exposure to the industry. Our facilitator Brenda Waring took the prize for the Best Couples Outfit on the day. 


The year (2019) concluded on a fashionable one, a Fashion Show was held on the “platform” of the local Pietermaritzburg Railway Station.  This is the same station that Gandhi was evicted from a first class carriage more than 100 years ago. The symbolism was an apt link to our Old Prison Museum at Project Gateway, where Mahatma Ghandi was imprisoned. The Fashion Show was a wonderful event and again the standard of work produced was incredibly high. 


Brenda Waring

Gateway School of Fashion facilitator


About the author:

Brenda Waring discovered her love for fashion at a very young age and started sewing at home with the help of her mother. After she matriculated at Voortrekker High School, Brenda studied fashion design part-time to finance her fees at the Pietermaritzburg School of Fashion. She was Designer of the Year every year during her studying. She won numerous prizes at the annual Tsogo Sun Sprint and the Vodacom Durban July yearly. Brenda had the opportunity to have a Mrs South Africa finalist wear one of her designs, gaining much deserved coverage in newspapers and television programs alike for her design.

Brenda had a successful home run business specialising in Matric Dress and Wedding Gowns designs. In 2013, Di Milford General Manager at Project Gateway, discovered Brenda and together with the CEO of Project Gateway, Pastor Jabu Mnculwane, persuaded her to head Gateway School of Fashion, after recognising her talent in the Fashion Industry.

In 2014 she took part in a 6 month, 21 Steps to Retail Programme, run by the KwaZulu Natal Fashion Council, at Gateway School of Fashion. This opened a door to SA Fashion Week – where Brenda showcased a very successful collection.

Brenda was faced with the challenge of starting to formulate a curriculum for a proper fashion design qualification, as the previous years had been equipping students with dressmaking skills, which did not include all the fashion design skills. She worked together with two lecturers’ that assisted her until 2016 to develop a curriculum. Part of the new curriculum was a Fashion Show held at the end of the year, making it a first in the school’s history since 2008. This was held in December 2015 giving students to opportunity to showcase their talents and designs by designing three outfits each. This annual event has become a highlight for the students and the local community.