Almost eight years ago, Lekang Makhiwa took a chance and followed her dream of opening up a boutique. But at the time she began everything from the boot of her car. Back then, her clients had forgotten about buying clothes on the Internet. However, Makhiwa was that affordable fashion fix.
Even though the road has been bumpy along the way, she has thrived ever since. Her customers sung the praises for her car boot sale, business bloomed and today she still offers those ethical, stylish clothes but now under a proper roof.
With her shop, Single Fabstarz now having opened its doors at Airport Junction Mall, Makhiwa continues to give the community a cool place to shop at. For a young woman who made the most out of selling from a car boot, fashion devotees can now acquire some fantastic fashion pieces without the designer budget at the new store.
She co-owns the outfit with her partner and cousin, Tshepo Sepora of Women of Substance.
“I started in 2011 selling from the boot of my car where usually people would order on requests. I had to cater for both markets because some people just wanted to see the clothes before buying and then there are others who just preorder,” she told Arts & Culture in an interview this week.
It didn’t take long for Makhiwa to open up her first store at KB mall near the bus rank in Gaborone, but it didn’t work out because of location. She said the bus rank was always crowded so people complained about parking and traffic amongst others.
The 31-year-old woman from Tshesebe said she then decided to change location and test waters at African Mall in Gaborone.
“The problem was that the store was located upstairs in a hidden spot and customers couldn’t identify it,” she added.
Makhiwa didn’t give up but rather looked for a better alternative and that’s when she decided to find a bigger mall being Airport Junction.
“The application required a lot of things. My cousin came to me and told me that our brands are big so we decided to make a one-stop shop at a prime location. She made the process happen and then we got the spot and that’s how we managed to have two brands under than one roof.
“This is a prime location and everybody at some point comes to this mall. This mall is for serious people and the management don’t just give out a store. They look at your
Makhiwa said it means a lot for them as young women in Botswana to be given such a prime location. She said Women of Substance sells accessories and hair while Single Fabstarz sells clothing and shoes.
She highlighted that even though they sell women clothing, in the future as they expand they will have a line for men. Going forward, Makhiwa said she does not just want their store to be a spot at Airport Junction mall, but they want to open others stores countrywide. “We want to cater for other clothing sizes like xxxl,” she said.
Looking back, Makhiwa said she didn’t just venture into the fashion business but rather she has been a fashionista from a young age.
“When I was at tertiary school I would make sure that everyday I have an outfit for the next day. I would rock heels to school and everyone called me Tyra Banks because I loved fashion that much,” she said.
Back then, she said she did not have all the information about ordering and selling clothes. But her former boss, the late Garai Makhaya help her to reach outside Botswana.
“He suggested that we order from outside. I was skeptical at first with the fear that I would lose my money. He basically gave me a start-up capital,” she acknowledged.
She said a full-time web developer for Dikgang Publishing Company trading as Mmegi, people call her a nerd but everything works better for her because she gets to know how things such as Facebook affect their markets. “I know marketing strategies for Facebook and websites. I know the internet well,” she gladly revealed.
Makhiwa also stated that she has realised that most people are exposed to fashion because they want to dress like celebrities they see on social media.
“There is a lot of potential in this industry. We would like to get celebrities to represent our brands. Charma Gal has been one of those people who has been supporting us,” she said.
She advised that people should dream on and persevere because there are no limits. Single Fabstarz is located at Shop 308 in Airport Junction Mall next to Cotton On.