Made With Love

Spend some time with Debbie Blake, the founder and CEO of DETIAMO, and you will appreciate the truism that success is not a destination, but a journey. I sat down with her for a chat over a cappuccino outside her concept store in the tranquil gardens of Terbodore in the KZN Midlands.


Debbie is an entrepreneur at heart. She also has a love of sewing and passion for the craft. “I grew up on a farm with three brothers, so I needed something to divert my attention from machinery and masculine pursuits. My mother bought me a sewing machine and that was the beginning of a life-long passion for every aspect of the craft of creating beautiful garments. While studying towards my B.Sc. Dietetics, if I wasn’t in a lecture theatre or on the tennis court, I could be found in the local sewing store learning new skills or negotiating the upgrade of my current machine to a more advanced model. Unlocking the potential of each machine was such an adventure for me.”


During her third year, Debbie opened her first factory, supplying major chain stores with gym-wear, and then moved on to train as an image consultant, becoming well-known in South Africa in the 1990s.


Debbie’s next move was to dress executive ladies in the business sector, including being part of the launch team for the Cape Grace Hotel. “My focus was on enhancing the individual’s self-image. When you know you are looking your best, you feel wonderful – 10 feet taller and ready for success!” This afforded her the opportunity to use her knowledge of colour, design, fabric and style to coordinate wardrobes that were practical, stylish and smart.


This experience laid the foundation for her to realise her dream of having the creative freedom to design and launch her own fashion range, and the pandemic provided her with the perfect opportunity.


There were a number of matriculants with unpromising work prospects on her farm estate. It wasn’t long before Debbie took them under her wing, training them to use sewing machines. Today, these same ladies are expert seamstresses and have come a long way from those days of making face masks.


Under Debbie’s direction and enthused by her abundant energy, the now-employed Nonto, Precious, Minerh and Nontu have developed into skilled young adults who are capable of running the factory and assisting at the DETIAMO store as well as with the launch of Debbie’s DETIAMO fashion brand at the Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks in 2022. “This has played a big part in the immense satisfaction I feel in realising my dream, but more importantly in creating a dream for them and helping them to realise their full potential.”


Through her own fashion brand, Debbie’s long-cherished dream of designing a range of easy-to-wear, mix-and-match, elegant garments for women came true. “I  wanted to create the type of clothing I enjoy wearing – timeless designs in top-quality linen fabric, styled in classic Euro-chic designs, and finished to international standards. A foundational smart-casual wardrobe with seasonal additions of pops of colour and new styles to enable discerning women to build a wardrobe that will take them from casual to smart-casual effortlessly,” Debbie says. “We only use top-quality, natural linens that breathe and drape well for comfort and elegance. I wanted my range to have an international style with an African heart.”


The DETIAMO range (made by Debbie with love) can be found online or at selected boutiques and game lodges throughout South Africa. To browse their full range together with a curated collection of complementary international and locally sourced accessories, it is well-worth a meander to the Midlands to visit their concept store adjacent to Terbodore Coffee Roasters.


Words by: Glenda Goddard Gill

Tel: 071 497 7818


Instagram: @deti.amo

Photos: Amanda Kelly