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In July this year, ELLE and BlackBerry® launched a unique competition in South Africa, which offered a grand prize of a career as a ‘Street-style Blogger’ for the magazine. By the closing date in October, 296 bloggers had responded to the initial brief for entries. From there, 18 candidates were selected and given a further assignment to find seven finalists whose blogging and social media skills are to be tested until the winner is announced in November. The stringent judging process ensured that the best fashion bloggers are among these seven finalists and include those who best connect with ELLE’s philosophy – there is no style without substance.


The final seven were selected by the highly qualified judging panel which is headed by photographer Ed Suter and consists of Jackie Burger, ELLE’s editor; Jenna McArthur, ELLE’s online editor; Ulanova Visser, Marketing Director South Africa; and Judy Smith, Head of Retail Marketing South Africa at BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM). Each of the seven finalists brings a unique flavour to the competition – here is a bit of information on the seven finalists who have wowed the judges to date:

Lebogang Tlhako (aka Bubu) is a 24-year-old photography graduate and blogger from Kathlehong on the East Rand. Still playing dress up and a lover of thrifting and hand-me-downs,  Bubu takes her inspiration from the older generation – she turns the lens of her camera on people who are eccentric and understated, she is extremely visual and is interested in how people put their clothes together. When asked what it means to her to be chosen as one of the final seven, she said, “I used to think magic only happened in the movies and then it happened to me.”

Nomanqoba Mthembu is a 22-year-old lover of prints, music, good movies, cupcakes and fabrics that flow in smooth tones. Born of a South African mother and Malawian father, family and heritage are important to her and feed her interest in culture and understanding people better. When asked what being chosen as a finalist means to her, she said, “It is electric for me; it is a kick in the right direction as the fashion industry is my chosen field from which I wish to grow as a contributor to the design aspect of our country.”

Trevor Stuurman was born and raised in Kimberley but then made his way to the “runway” of Cape Town to study a BA in Motion Picture to study film. Stuurman loves the camera as a model or behind the lens as a photographer, producer or stylist. With a passion for being authentic, his writing is proudly local and street style and fashion is his first love, which he combines with his zeal for capturing fascinating characters. When asked what the competition means to him, he responded, “The road to the finals has opened my eyes to so many things about my beloved country and my growing self.”

Mlilo Mpondo is a social anthropologist, an observer, a documentor, a writer and a thinker. This 24 year-old Xhosa girl from the Eastern Cape quotes herself as being “a lover, a mother, a fighter, a fire, the quintessential Elle belle, and a great style reporter in the making”. She says, “Inside of me lives an unrelenting need to be greater than the greatness promised to me from birth, greatness that I know lives in each of us. My need is to document that greatness, and perhaps inspire those around me that forget that it resides in them too”.

Phendu Kuta is a highly ambitious individual whose biggest dream is to inspire and positively influence other young people to become entrepreneurs. Having already started her first fashion-related business making edgy hand-made accessories, this creative 21-year-old is well travelled and has a great understanding of different people and cultures. When asked what the competition means to her, she replied, “I’ve often told my lecturers that South Africa has its own unique fashion voice; finally ELLE is allowing us young people the opportunity to decipher and express this.

Lerato Dumisa is a 21-year-old ‘running wild’ on the streets of Cape Town. Having grown up on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, she is the middle child in a family of 10 and has always had a love of fashion. It is Lerato’s belief that fashion is a universal language which is spoken by all countries and continents; it brings people together and allows them to express who they are. When asked what the competition means to her, Lerato commented, “Working for ELLE has always been a dream of mine, and to know that I’m that much closer really brings such excitement to me. I’m nervous for this final stage, but intend putting only hard work, passion and a lot of creativity into the remaining challenges.”

Sandisiwe Pityi is a 22-year-old publishing student living in Johannesburg. She claims to have a less than healthy penchant for Jane Austen and milk (and her mother’s cooking) but what this Gemini clearly does have is a penchant for writing, and for expressing herself in words. She is inspired by all kinds of people and pictures and sometimes by people in pictures, but is also quite sure of what she is capable of.  When asked what being one of the final seven finalists means to her, she said, “I feel as though it has all been for this moment. Words fail.”


The grand prize that these seven finalists are vying for consists of a seven-month contract with ELLE, including a R10 000 monthly stipend and all the BlackBerry resources to perform the role of Style Reporter, including a BlackBerry® PlayBookâ„¢ tablet and a BlackBerry® smartphone *someone tell me why I didn’t enter*. In addition to regular exposure in ELLE and on the digital and social media platforms of ELLE and BlackBerry, the winner will receive a trip to a leading international fashion week and the opportunity to meet a top international fashion blogger.

 “The prize was designed to give the winner everything possible to make a career in this competitive and fast-changing industry. Our hope is that this will ultimately help grow the next generation of fashion writers in South Africa,” says ELLE Editor Jackie Burger.

 The winner of the ELLE Style Reporter 2012 Search in association with BlackBerry will be announced at the ELLE Style Reporter in association with BlackBerry Blog Party on 20 November in Johannesburg. The event will be attended by 400 guests that will include celebrities as well as ELLE readers. Ticket sales for this headline event opened on 9 October and Tickets can be purchased on

*Press Release

South African Editor for
An educated individual who inspires young minds and still enriches her own
For invites, reviews and press releases email

Duduzile Chiloane – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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