/ 9 August 2022

More than just luxurious sleepwear

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Boity Thulo in Top Drawer Collection Credit: Boity Thulo

When Carla Frankel was just 20 years old, she was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases, antiphospholipid syndrome, and lupus. A year later, she started experiencing burning feet, which later turned into a sagittal sinus thrombosis and led to a stroke. 

These were trying times for Frankel and her family. Her three-week hospital stay plus the months of recovery meant she had forfeited her university bursary as she was unable to finish her exams. 

“I had to mentally adapt from being a strong and fit athlete in school to now having a health disorder,” says Frankel. 

During her recovery, Frankel’s bonding sessions with her mother kept her going. “In that dark period of recovery, the only thing that lifted my spirits was the pair of matching pyjamas my mom would get for her and I to wear,” she says. 

To Frankel, these were not just pyjamas, they were a layer of comfort and safety. This sparked an idea that would change Frankel’s life and touch the lives of many others. 

When she recovered, she went back to university to finish her studies. She often remembered the difference a good set of pyjamas had made on her journey to recovery. Frankel identified a need for comfort, saw a gap in the market and was determined to fill it. 

After graduating from university, Frankel started her own sleepwear line, Top Drawer Collection. About eight months and 22 samples later, she found the perfect pattern. 

“During the pattern process, I fitted the sleepwear samples on about 50 different women. From friends to aunts, to the seamstresses at the factory,” says Frankel. 

In June 2018, the Top Drawer Collection made its first sale. Today, the business produces luxury personalised and ready-to-wear sets. 

Top Drawer Collection has become an Instagram sensation and a brand of preference for celebrities such as Connie Furgerson, Refilwe Mabote, Anele Mdoda, DJ Lamiez Holworthy, Boity, Siya Bunny, Shadu, Khanya Mkangisa, Sarah Langa and many more. 

Despite being only in its third year of business, demand has increased and the company is building a factory and outsourcing work to other factories.