Passion for fashion

Tshepo Kehimile

Fashion design is more often than not misconstrued for feminine pursuit or even trivialized as popular culture, but this is a billion dollar industry and local fashion designer, Phomolo Masega (32), is well on course to not only make the money, but also a name for herself.

Coming from a lineage of talented sewers and knitters, Masega’s path of career choice did not come as a surprise. Growing up as a young girl, she would wake up and dress up nicely and bask in the glory of compliments as people admired her sense of fashion.

“That gave me a lot of courage. However, my biggest inspiration came from my grandmother who loved knitting and sewing. I would watch her applying silk touch to cloths and that nurtured me as I grew up”, she recalls.

Masega did not study fashion design at university, but her foray into the business began when she chose to study Public Relations and Events Management which she says was a deliberate move to enhance and diversify her craft.

“Now as a young adult in the society, mixing with trends, style and finding my identity, I took it upon myself to be more serious and share my art and creativity with the world,” she says.

The Mankgodi-born native who also has painting skills says her company started in 2019 and had to survive the turbulent Covid-19 period when the virus was running loose and things running a different course. “My company, Black Mantra, was registered in December 2019 and it is mainly a creative hub that has fused fashion, fine art and events to impact people holistically.

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“I’ve had to put in hours of work, blood, sweat and tears amid the lockdowns during the pandemic. Furthermore, I experienced a few setbacks as I was forced to self fund as there was no capital and sewing machines were very expensive. Nevertheless, with the grace of the God, I eventually pulled through and bought a sewing machine to get the business operation up and running and most people have been showing love for my designs which has kept me going,” Masega said with pride, further explaining her desire to expand from her small base in Maruapula where she has often struggled to meet the growing business demand and having to sometimes outsource the services.

“My entity is currently operating at my place in Gaborone, Maruapula, and I do not have any permanent employees yet but I sometimes engage other people to help me when I have big orders,” she said.

The confident fashion designer said she is wary of local competition and she always tries hard to be unique and stand out from the rest.

“I am aware that a lot of people in the country have ventured into fashion hence the competition is high but my designs are unique, Afrocentric but unorthodox. So in essence, anyone anywhere can relate with my sense of style,” said the talented Masega.

With regards to marketing her products, Masega says she usually attends big fashion shows such as Fashion Without Borders as well as marketing her services on her Facebook page.

“My prices range from P500.00, but other products are tailor-made for specific individuals, so it is different prices for different designs. I can design everything(clothes) for men and women,” she said.

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Meanwhile, Masega says she believes her entity will grow with time and she intends to own a retail shop and a warehouse.

“I believe my company is growing, and one day I will be able export my products to the global market,” she said.

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