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Merge Magic

The story of Raeesah Albertus and Immanuel Tappie Makuse sounds like a dreamy and fashionable fairytale. It¨s a plot that Netflix scriptwriters may very well snatch up for their latest original film.

Combine the story of flight attendants falling in love, with turning into fashion moguls and spreading messages of love and inclusivity, and you¨ve got a recipe for magic. The best part? It¨s not based on a true story, it is a true story and it belongs to two Cape Town locals.

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Love is in the air, literally?

^We met when we were flight attendants working for the same airline, ̄ Immanuel recalls in a discussion with Bubblegum Club.

^There was a lot we wanted to change but couldn¨t, that¨s when we decided to put our interest together and create something, ̄ he went on to say.

For the pair, it was about using their passions to create a wearable space for love, inclusion and embracing culture.

The duo, who are an interracial couple, decided to merge their creativity and business suave to create a space where love and positivity could live.

Raeesah was in grade 3 doing needlework and dreamt of having a clothing label, as per Bubblegum Club, while Immanuel had wanted to be an entrepreneur for a long time.

Through their fashion hustle, a labour of love started as a side gig, hence the name of their brand, Off Duty. However, because of Covid, it has now become their full-time bread and butter.

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Inspiration from working as flight attendants?

The two were inspired by the restrictive nature of life as flight attendants. When we get on a plane, if we are lucky enough, many times we know that comfort is key for the journey. Flight attendant uniforms are not exactly the epitome of comfort. Additionally, there is a level of recognition that is void when one is not in their uniform.

^Life as flight attendants inspired our designs. It was being so restricted and only recognised as important when you¨re in a suit that made me want to change that narrative.

I wanted to be in a hoodie and sneakers, feeling comfortable as I am, and still [be] recognised, ̄ says Immanuel to Bubblegum Club.

Recognised is the keyword here. What we wear and how we present ourselves so often links back to how other people perceive us. Why is respect intertwined with a uniform in any case? Off Duty decided to challenge this.

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Their goals?

The duo expresses that their work is a ^reflection of us, our story, our hard work and our hearts. ̄

Due to the pandemic, the Off Duty creators decided to put their all into the business. By positioning themselves as entrepreneurs, they knew that they would also be able to create job opportunities for others, especially in light of the pandemic.

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Their messages

Other messages that are expressed in their work include `Ubuntu¨ and `Peace¨. They¨re all about cultural embrace and have expressed that ^so much good and growth come from [embracing other cultures] ̄, as per their interview with Bubblegum Club.

Through their brand, it¨s evident that they are spreading a message of inclusivity. They have chosen love over judgment and have faced the latter numerous times. Due to being an interracial couple, they have also received a lot of negativity.

Their response was The `Love Project`, a beautiful post expressing love in reaction to the hatred.

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In terms of quality, Raeesah says that ^People need to be wearing OD 20 years from now and that means it needs to be good quality. We [would] rather have 20 amazing garments than 100 garments [with] the quality not being great, ̄ as per Bubblegum Club.

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Website: Off Duty

Instagram: @off_duty_za

Picture: Instagram @off_duty_za

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