An eye for the unusual and a natural flair for art was all that 24-year-old Angelinah Gaolathe needed to start her innovative enterprise.
Born in Tutume but currently staying in Francistown’s Monarch location, the proud Kalanga woman has found a niche in making and selling flowerpots.
Throughout the week she can be found displaying her startlingly beautiful products along Blue Jacket Street, just opposite Furniture Mart.
The flowerpots’ bright colours and unexpected designs caught the attention of this Voice Money reporter as she trudged sleepily towards court on a mundane Monday morning.
With a disarmingly genuine but slightly shy smile, it takes some convincing before Gaolathe eventually agrees to an interview.
Once she gets talking however, there’s no stopping her.
Speaking quietly but clearly, she explains she started her flowerpot-making business back in August last year after reading an article about a Kasane man who was making money from designing and selling flowerpots.
Gaolathe uses cement, wire, oil paints, towels and buckets to create her products. Each flowerpot takes a week to complete and includes diverse designs such as grasshopper shoes, stilettos and lechisa shoes, ranging from bright red to dark black to luminous lime green.
These more exotic pots cost from P150 downwards but Gaolathe also makes more traditional, ‘normal’ flowerpots, which at just P50 represent real value for money. The pots are surprisingly weighty, built to stand the test of time, explains Gaolathe proudly.
“I start by making the frame with wire. Then I stuff papers in, apply mortar and wait for it to dry. After drying I shape it then put water in the design for the whole night to make it strong. Once it’s dry, I apply paint and then wait for it to dry again,” says the former Selolwe Junior School student, whose dream growing up was to become a journalist.
‘‘The material I use does not cost a lot as a bag of cement makes up to 30 flower pots and 1 litre of oil paint paints is enough for about 25 products,” she adds sagely, our interview temporarily interrupted by passing pedestrians expressing interest in her products.
The young mother, whose eight-month-old son is wrapped up in blankets and fast asleep beside her, reveals that she also makes water-fountains, which she keeps at home because they are too heavy to transport with her.
Gaolathe runs the small business – which has not yet been registered – with her boyfriend and makes between P3, 000 to P4, 000 profit a month.
Her eyes light up and her ready smile is even more prominent as she talks about the man she describes as her ‘inspiration’.
“My boyfriend Christopher Dube, who is from Zimbabwe, is the one inspiring me as he helps me and always tells me not to give up,” she says resolutely.
When asked how she markets her business she states that when many people engage in social media for unproductive business and show off, she decided to use the power of social media to promote her venture.
According to Gaolathe, one of the main challenges she faces is people buying her products on credit but then failing to pay at the agreed time.
Looking towards the future, the aspiring businesswoman intends to register her enterprise and apply for tenders from the government and the private sector.
When advising unemployed youth with dreams of starting their own businesses, Gaolathe is uncharacteristically stern in her response, saying they should stand up and stop blaming the economy.
“Hard work and commitment are the key pillars of business,” she concludes brightly, the interview brought to a premature end as Gaolathe attends to more prospective customers.