From refugee to Fashion Designer
Back To NewsThursday 21 February, 2019
Salomon Lukonga (Class of 2016) has an extraordinary story and is going from strength to strength. Thank you to the QT for sharing his story. You can read the full story below, or visit the QT Website (subscriber content).
Changing the world one, one sale at a time
WHILE living in an overcrowded African refugee camp as a child, Salomon Lukonga had to watch as friends died from preventable diseases.
His family arrived in Australia in 2011 and he vowed he would never take for granted the opportunity presented to him.
The 20-year-old reached an important milestone in his mission to combat poverty back in the Congo after launching a website for his fashion brand Mojalivin.
There are 30 pieces for sale, ranging from T-shirts to blazers, overcoats and dresses, including both men's and women's items.
Thirty per cent of the profit from every item sold will go towards medical aids to those suffering how Salomon once did.
"This was a dream come true in a way,” he said.
"I finally have everything up and running, it's like I can breathe. Now I feel I'm closer to start helping people back home.
"Obviously the job is not over. There is still a lot for me to do.”
After graduating from high school two years ago, Salomon chose not to go to university and instead focused on building up his brand and honing his design skills.
With a long held passion for the fashion industry, he said it was a no-brainer to combine it with his desire to make a difference.
He launched his first collection - Birth of more Love - with a fashion show in November.
"I came here to a country full of opportunities. Australia has pretty much everything,” he said.
"I said I'm not going to go on with my life like everyone else. I want to stand my ground and actually make this work.
"The earlier I could get this running, the more people I can save before it's too late.”
Salomon always wanted to start a business venture and it grew from a business pathway program called Impact Academy while he was at West Moreton Anglican College.
He hoped his work would inspire other young people to make their mark.
"I believe as the youth we can always start thinking of ideas at a young age and really make this future of our generation a better one,” he said.
"I just hope other young kids out there go and see this and do something for themselves and do something they're passionate about.”
He hopes to hold another fashion show in July with work started on a new collection.
His goal for the next five years is to raise enough money to build a hospital back in the Congo.
"This is a big one but you've got to dream higher,” he said.
'Moja' in Swahili means one and 'livin' is an abbreviation for living and the combination of the two words aims to unit people together as a way "to make a louder impact in the world.”
Story: Lachlan McIvor, QT
Photo: Rob Williams, QT