Twenty-six-year-old fashion designer Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana has put a new spin on creativity with her Kobo E Bohadi “blanket of prestige” collection. The collection has people looking at Basotho blankets in a different light. The young designer recently made the Nelson Mandela Bay Chamber of Business’ 2014 Top 40 under 40 Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders list.
The Lesotho-born who currently resides in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, founded fashion label Eponymous Thabo Makhetha in 2009. She had just graduated from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University with a diploma in fashion. Like many young people, she was having a hard time finding work after university.
On why she chose to call her fashion line by her full name, she said, “I used my full name for the label because I believe that if it has your name on it you’ll care about it more.”
She says living in different cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, Mafikeng, and Port Elizabeth influenced her style and design sense.
She states that starting the business was a great risk, so she was shocked, excited, and relieved when people embraced her range. She got international recognition in March when South African Elle Magazine Editor Jackie Burger, wore her cape to the 2014 Louis Vuitton Fashion Show in Paris.
The constant love and satisfaction of her work is what drives Thabo to do more on her designs. She has received hundreds of likes and comments on Facebook after her appearance on SABC 1’s 100% Youth Show on the 14th of August. Though she was nervous about being on national television, she says she enjoyed the experience.
What she is most proud of, though, is being recognised as one of the 2014 Top 40 under 40 entrepreneurs and business leaders by the Nelson Mandela Bay Chamber of Business.
“I was humbled beyond words, especially because previous Top 40 under 40s (from Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth) were young entrepreneurs that I really looked up to and wanted to emulate. I never thought I’d be listed at such a young age. This accolade not only acknowledges my designs but me as an entrepreneur and a formal business woman. It’s a stamp of approval from business leaders across all industries,” she said.
Thabo has been invited to showcase at the Vancouver Fashion Week spring/summer 2015 in Canada next month (September). Her goal is to tell her story and get people to know about her and hoping to meet and network with as many industry people and buyers as possible.
As an entrepreneur, she believes that starting a business is a great way to create work for yourself and other people. Funding agencies also need to be more visible, they must do community road-shows to inform the youth regarding sourcing funding.
Her future plans include planning towards her autumn/winter 2016 collection which she’ll be launching next year. She is also researching ways to create new materials and how those can be made and presented in future collections.
For more of her work and for bookings go to http://www.thabomakhethadesigns.co.za/
Twitter handle: @TMakCC
Follow me @Simamkele_M