LOBATSE; With over 25 years experience in fashion design, 49-year-old Keitumetse Mathubadifala of Lobatse has managed to establish a thriving fashion design business despite having no academic background in the field.
Through the years, passion has driven her to the top of the industry, which she joined due to unemployment. Apart from a short course, which came as part of a package for enrollment into the government poverty eradication funding scheme, the middle-aged woman learnt the profession through working in different textile firms.
Her business, Smart Neat Designs was registered in 2014, but it has proved to be one of the local brands that are doing well. The company has already scooped Lobatse District Certificate of Excellence in June 2017 and recently Lobatse Poverty Eradication Expo 2017 certificate of Excellence.
The company designs several fashion garments, especially the African print textile products, wedding garments and occasion outfit, as well as staff uniform. It is located in Woodhall 2.
In 1991 when she started working, she says she was only paid P80 but she kept on working to gain ‘experience’.
“I realised that my skills improved over time because of the passion I had and decided that I should leave her and look for work at an established a firm. By then I was paid P80, but when I started working for a firm in Gaborone I received P150 salary. I worked for the company for five years, but then it was not challenging because I only designed shirt pockets. “I then moved to another company and I was afforded the opportunity to design a complete product,“ she said.
Despite her captivating story of success in the industry, Mathubadifala said she faced challenges, which some still persist to date, but her secret lies in tackling challenges head-on.
The mother of three said it is important for small local businesses to merge. “We cannot manage to conquer the market until we form business groups and corporations. In that way, we will be able to support one another. We will be able to access resources, funding and take advantage of cost sharing that is what I learnt through the years. Until small Batswana businesses come together we will always import,” she said.