Maloti Mothobi is the founder of Strato, a South African unisex sportswear brand. While she graduated in 2004 at CPUT where she studied Fashion Design, she does not want to be called a designer – “People will put you in all sorts of boxes and they will perceive you in a certain way”. She took her passion further and turned it into a profitable career. One she did not plan for, it just happened.
She started the brand in 2006 while she was working at The Foschini Group (TFG) where she was employed for two years. There, everything was mass-produced , and she noticed a gap in the local street wear market. She then decided to create her own label , which initially focused on women’s wear and eventually evolved to include menswear.
Strato is relaunching this year as a men’s wear brand. They will no longer be a unisex brand (breaking news) . Mothobi feels the ladies wear is so saturated in the market and men’s wear is quite a niche. She needs to fill the gap. She also moved as a brand as it’s being a distinct sport wear brand into more casual holistic lifestyle brand. Within the product range customers will get a bit of sport wear, semi-formal casual as well to create a store were you can find everything for the Strato man.
There will be an online store that will be launched in a couple of weeks, “ it feels like we are opening a brand new store”. She feels that the South Africa consumers is warming up to buying online so she think it is such and interesting economic space to tap into. Stato’s distinct signature is the colours they use, “it is every colourful brand” said Mothobi. That simply translate the consumer or the person who is wearing it, a person who is vibrant, unique, trendsetter that know what they want .
She said being a young black female in the business world is challenging. Mothobi said you just have to push bigger boundaries and trust yourself, and as much it is a challenge to her is a test how committed she is to the industry . “ It is not about making the money it is about changing the industry” said Mothobi. She is creating a brand that will live long after she is gone.
She always wanted to have a outlet because she wanted to create a very distinct brand and she always felt her brand have to be seen. The reason why she opened her own store is the fact that she did not want any limitations when it comes to her brand, and how it will be merchandised. The background she has on retail made things easier because she knows the dynamics of the industry.
Images: Ashleigh Swartz
Twitter: @Strato _Africa
Facebook: Strato Concept Store