From hat collector to passionate hatter


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.

After struggling to find employment for a long time, Olefile who holds an Advanced Diploma in Procurement and Supply Management said she decided to explore her skills to put food on the table. She turned her passion for hats into business. “I was always a hat collector, and I realized that people were always impressed by my hats. One day I decided to turn my passion into a business taking the art of hat making to new heights. My goal was to create pieces that would be cherry on top of the look of a classy and elegant woman,” she said. She produces sinamay hats, fascinators, and hatinators, which are produced using sewing machines, halts moulds and decorations.


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.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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