Walking into a design hub, going in with nothing but the idea you built in your head about a design house. Going into the design room without any expectations but to see the magic a designer’s touch can do to simple cloth. With the white painted room adorning not one but many pictures of her worldwide showcases. Her very own version of Paris and fashion painted on the other side of the room makes fashion lovers relate to the happenings of the biggest runway stage in the world. This was indeed an explosion of fusion in fashion. From silk to cotton, German print to chiffon one is guaranteed a meltdown moment in the field of fashion.
At the end of the day image is what everyone one goes by. Having showcased on the world stage, Botho Chalebgwa a fashion designer with a BA honors in Fashion, is the Vice president of Botswana Textile and clothing Society and is the brain behind BOTOCY fashion labels and brand.
Botho is quick to note that currently she is trading in two brands under her mother brand “Botocy.” She says that BOTOCY is the main Brand and BOTOCY Bridal couture is the other. These two brands according to her enable her to be able to provide different services depending on what the client wants. At BOTOCY, she focuses on ready to wear ladies wear garments and corporate wear. BOTOCY Bridal on the other hand is currently creating bespoke wedding attire but also with plans to develop her own bridal product line.
Chalebgwa says that her clientele are predominantly women due to the brand specifically catering for them. These women range from all walks of life and they vary in age. She considers that we are living in the age where women’s wear in particular is very diverse and that she as a designer considers their preferences whether guided by age, tribe, morals beliefs and culture. The defining factor though is based on income brackets. Chalebgwa cites that although she no longer wants to deal with custom designing she values her customers worldwide.
Although BOTOCY is at the preliminary stages of interaction with the global market this is proving to be an exciting time for the Brand. Her global interest is growing and she and her team are currently putting in place measures to take full advantage of this interest. She says they are still looking at a variety of ways to reach her target market which has motivated her venture into trading on the internet with both BOTOCY and BOTOCY bridal designs.
She has already showcased in various countries including South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia, France (Paris), England (London) and off course Botswana. “I am very grateful to God, Ministry of Youth Sport and culture and various sponsors for the opportunities and I look forward to many more.” she says.
Having studied in South Africa Botho prides herself in her way of having studied Fashion from both a commercial and bespoke perspective. She says this has made her have an understanding of how to adapt to the challenges of having to exist and thrive in a not so established industry. Botho cites her training in South Africa as her most real experience on having to persevere through these challenges.
Although she has her name on the map, she still believes the limited opportunities in the country challenges one in an established work environment. This is because more respect is given to designers who are not Batswana, a discouraging factor because some of these designers were part of her educational circle.
She believes that as her own boss and having worked for herself most of her professional life she has never came across any major hurdles. “There was a time when I halted and worked for a tertiary education establishment for almost 2 years and I cannot recall any serious challenges of note. I would say the challenge is not actually having an established fashion industry this creates a number of hurdles.”
Chalebgwa states that having to exist in this kind of industry requires one to throw away the box entirely to avoid having to “think outside the box” noting that “the sad reality of our education structure is that when you finish tertiary education especially having trained in a design field there is a limitation in job opportunities. The higher your qualification the less opportunities you will find, that is why most young designers resort to business owning a risk that sometimes is not beneficial especially when you lack business skills.” Botho says she strives to create opportunities for other people. She says although she runs a small operation she has big expansion plans. She currently has one location and is making full use of the internet in order capitalize on the various opportunities currently available.
Being a Creative Designer of her own company allows her to have creative control on all the products that her brand produces, it gives her an opportunity to push herself constantly harder to achieve her most creative statue. Her biggest challenge though she says comes when she has to fit in more places than one. Botho says young entrepreneur can relate to the experience of wearing the highest hat in their own establishment to the very lowest. She says it keeps one motivated and humble. Botho says she finds this experience to be most extraordinary when relating it to the outside perceptions people may have equipped their strategic thinking with.
“I am a true creative in the sense that I am a sensual being and creative. I am inspired by what I see, hear, touch and smell. I love to travel in order to expand my outlook on life. I have a deep love for art, culture, history, architecture and music and often find inspiration from those sources. I also have a deep love for women, form, physique and characteristics. I look at women as gifts from God and therefore my clothing is a celebration of WOMAN in her beauty, intricacies and simplicity.” the talented fashion designer says.
She advises those with dreams of owning a business to avoid the deadly mentality of having dreams to start too big. She urges young entrepreneurs to keep their dreams realistic and that that is the most important step to be considered in gaining a true understanding of a business owner’s mentality. Also she notes, one should look for an alternative solution in the interim and reduce dependence. “Let the funding find you with all your wheels in motion.” she adds.