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Afrocentric fabrics that demand attention

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AFRICAN WAX PRINT OWNER: Theo Khumo

 
The strikingly beautiful and unique designs are hard to miss in a country with a primarily European fashion sense.

African Wax Prints-BW, an African fabrics oriented brand, is flexing its muscle and fashionistas are beginning to take notice.
Tailor made dresses, neck pieces, bags, crafts and shoes are adorned with an African attitude, which never fails to stand out.

Owned by Tonota born Theo Khumo or Bree Theo Yaya Elanzo to her social media friends, the idea was ironically sparked by an European group in 201.

“I was inspired by a Facebook UK group called For the Wax. I thought if Europeans can play around with African fabrics why can’t we do the same,” said Khumo.

“I immediately thought of bringing the fabrics to Botswana. I knew the attitude here was that the fashion belonged to Ghanaians and Nigerians, but I was hopeful that some people would be interested,” she said.

Wax refers to the texture of the fabric and it has become the most sought-after among others which include Ankara, Kente and Java.

With her mind made up, the young Khumo packed her bag and left for Zambia in October 2011 to buy the much sought-after fabric.

“I didn’t know anyone in Zambia. I just posted on my Facebook wall and asked who are my friends in Zambia? I got positive response and my Zambian Facebook friends helped me,” she said.

It was the beginning of the making of a brand that caught on like a raging inferno.

“I began selling from a car boot and putting my stuff online. My online shop has been doing very well,” she said.

In February this year African Wax Prints-BW opened a shop in Francistown. The shop is currently being managed by Khumo’s mother.

“It has been a challenge because people still don’t know that we actually have a physical address,” said Khumo.

 

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The passionate fashionista works with local tailors who design her clothes. She has become the face of her company, with some of the futuristic designs and chic ensembles she usually posts on her twitter and facebook accounts.

“The wax has definitely become a hit in the country. Batswana love the dashiki because of its bright, outstanding colours,” she said.

The young entrepreneur who is also an employee at Francistown City Council, says she has plans to open a outlet in Gaborone in future.

“More people are ordering this fabric for weddings and seem to prefer it over the German print (leteisi),” she said.

While she is optimistic that the market will continue to grow, Khumo said it is a challenge for young people to set up businesses.

“I did not get any financial assistance for my business, I financed it from my own pocket, but finding a suitable office space has been a challenge. As you can see I’m upstairs, out of sight from potential customers,” lamented Khumo.

However, with her determination and unmistakable passion, it looks like African Wax Print is here to stay.