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AT HOME WITH MPHO KUAHO

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“You won’t miss the house because of its bright yellow paint,” says Mpho Kuaho as she gives me directions to her house in Block 7 where we were to meet for our Sunday afternoon appointment.

STYLISH: Mpho in her lounge

Hmmm, what a loud colour for a house I say to myself, anyway designers are ‘crazy’ people so what can one expect.
Indeed I did not miss the house, the paint is yellow but not the unsightly yellow that I had in mind. The colour gives the house that striking look and top that with the neatly done landscape, you get a picturesque home.
What was I thinking, how could I, a journalist without a flair for design really think otherwise about Mpho’s choice of colour for her house, after all she is a well known local and regional designer with style.
While I was still admiring the landscape, she ushered me into the house. Wow! Wow! was all I could say as my eyes set on the exquisite furniture and  the fine accessories that blended in well to create the top billing kind of dwelling.

I just fell in love with the ambience, the space and how each piece of décor makes the house more than just a home.
For me the way the house is finely decorated is a clear testimony that Mpho is not only gifted in turning any fabric into designer outfits but also turning any space into a million dollar kind of  home.
“You can contract me to turn your house upside down. Interior décor is one of the things that I do best,” she says with a smile as I commend her superb home.

Although the young talented designer who started running her company called Issues at a backyard in 2002 had already made a name for herself, she shot to fame in 2006 when she was named the Redds Africa Design

COLOURFUL: Mpho's house

Winner after beating 10 other designers from around the continent.

Her label Jophes 09267 is what has also catapulted her into even greater heights as it is a brand to reckon with for the high end fashion fanatics.
“It is named after my number one supporter, my husband Joseph whose nickname is Jophes. He supported me from the beginning and even gave me the support that I needed when I had to make one of the most difficult decisions in my life. I had to leave behind our first son when he was only two weeks old to pursue my degree in Fashion Design in Durban, it was a chance that I could not miss and he allowed me to go leaving him to be the mother and father to our son.

“The digits as you can see makes up the country code. I was calling home numerous times in a day while in Durban so I could not resist putting it as part of my label name because of the road I have travelled as a designer,’’ she says.

While she seems to have made it as a designer, as she has made a major breakthrough by clinching a deal with Options where she is supplying the clothing store with her designer clothes, Mpho says it’s still tough in the industry as there is very little support for designers from the government and public sector.

“Yes I have expanded the business as I now operate from a factory and have 10 employees but it’s tough. There are so many challenges especially finance as people don’t seem to understand the industry but I am sure one day we will get there. One of my greatest challenges is that my business is family financed and whatever money that we make goes back to the business as we are trying to break even.”

She also appealed to the government and the private sector to support the local fashion industry as it had a potential to diversify the economy and create the much needed employment for the youth.
“It’s funny how local companies do not give us tenders for their uniforms yet the very same people who sit on those tender boards are quick to approach us for outfits meant for their various occasions. They love our clothing and the work that we do but when it comes to tenders we are not good enough, that mindset should just change,” she said

RELAXED: In the TV room

Mpho however expressed optimism that maybe the winds of change could be blowing as the government through the Ministry of Arts and Culture will this year partner with them in the Colour in the Desert Fashion Week.
“It’s a good sign and a step in the right direction that they have realised the potential that we have as local designers and that we can put Botswana on the international fashion map’’ she said.

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