“Have you ever heard of Maria McCloy?”
I looked at him with a “Are you for real?” look on my face, let out a giggle and simply said “Oh yes. I’ve heard of her.”
What he didn’t know is that he was asking this question to the chairperson of the Maria McCloy Appreciation Society. This guy didn’t know that I stayed up every Friday night to watch Bassiq and wouldn’t mind being sleepy on Friday mornings during lectures after watching Siyabonga Ngwekazi on Street Journal the evening before and my Sundays were never complete without Aya Mpama and Soul Sundays. What I wanted to ask is “Why haven’t you ever heard of her?”
Yesterday while driving with my sister, the 2003 hit by H2O “It is wonderful” came on the radio and it took me back to a wonderful time for urban culture and I remembered one of the people who were instrumental to this.
This could have easily been a short Instagram post but it wouldn’t do justice to how much she means to me. Please note as you read this that I’ve only ever spoken to her twice but she’s had such a profound impact on my life that I felt compelled to write something a little more meaningful about her.
She’s one third of Black Rage Productions and along with her partners Kutloano Skosana and Dzino they made urban youth culture more accessible and paved the way for other creatives like me to want to pursue and master their craft.
As a second year student at the time, I was inspired to learn of this trio of Rhodes University graduates that had started a company that gave birth to rage.co.za and Outrageous Records at a time when I wondered where a journalism degree would take me. Social media wasn’t as prominent then so these weren’t overnight tweelebs who earned their stripes from 140 characters of wit, sarcasm and bitchiness – they worked hard and it showed.
My admiration for Maria started then as she continued to be prominent in urban youth culture, I was always watching. I was so excited to walk into Burgundy Fly in Rosebank a few years ago and spotted beautiful African print clutches. When I enquired about who made them, the sales consultant told me they’re by Maria McCloy. I knew then that she was taking over the Afro accessories scene; what I didn’t know is that she’d been taking over since her days at Rage!
I’ve watched her brand grow from strength to strength and I’ve been inspired by her more and more everyday.
As a creative trying to carve her way through this world, I’m encouraged and strengthened knowing that there are women like Maria who’ve travelled the path and have made it!
Maria if you ever read this I’d like to say thank you for mentoring me from far without even knowing it. I salute you for living your truth and by saying in everything you do: “do what you love”.