There is a long tradition of hat-wearing for special occasions within Botswana culture that local entrepreneur, Kopo Olefile is taking the art form to a completely new design level with her well-handcrafted creations.
The production capacity depends on the number of orders she gets from customers. Olefile said she struggled to get her business off the ground due to a lack of funds. As the business was picking she started getting orders but had no money to buy the material, which she sources from a neighbouring country. However, she managed to stay afloat against all odds getting clients from churches, weddings, and special occasions. “My artistic and beautifully handcrafted creations turn heads at events, which results in me getting more clients every time, mostly through referrals,” she said.
According to Olefile, this has given her leverage over her competitors adding that her patterns are always unique. Her plans to own a boutique were stalled by the outbreak of COVID-19, which forced her to close the business for more than a year as the world came to standstill. “The pandemic really crippled my operations as a small business, for a long time there were no events and people were just home and cared less about their looks.
As a determined businessperson I have picked up my pieces and started from scratch with the little funds I have,” she said. Even though the business is currently picking, sourcing the material from the neighbouring country seems to be a challenge for Olefile who said it is more expensive but had to as it is always a challenge to get the same locally. “The business has a good market but the problem is that I buy materials outside the country and my profits are mostly split between tax at the border and transport. Buying in bulk usually is more effective and I will consider it in future. I want my business to expand and be able to create employment,” she said.