Turning mud into a fortune
by Calistus Bosaletswe
Their outdoor and indoor handmade decorations made out of clay are swiftly making a mark in homes, offices and up-market malls around the country.
The duo, Tshepiso Kenosi and Caroline Modise, who are operating their pottery business in Mochudi are not looking back but their hope is to export their wares in the near future.
Their drive to beautify family houses, private properties and government offices is bearing fruit as more people tend to find the importance of the outdoor and indoor decorations.
The two currently specialise in making flower pots, vases, basins, cups sold to individuals, upmarket homes, malls, curio shops and to private properties.
All the products are made under one roof with clay soil brought in from Otse and Serule villages.
Kenosi and Modise are happy to be making money from harvested clay soil that is mixed with water to make products to the satisfaction of their customers.
Kenosi, who was busy molding vessels, explained that they are making inroads as they now able to partner with large retail outlets, such as Square Mart and Builders’ World who sell their products. She believes that their products are of better quality because they are able to compete with some products that are imported from other countries.
“We only deliver the products and they put a mark up on our price and sell to customers. But we also sell to individuals. We are able to compete well with products that come from outside the borders. The problem is that we are not mass producing because the business is still in its infancy,” she said.
Kenosi also noted that people can hardly believe that they are the ones who are manufacturing the products. She said that people think that they order the items from some shops somewhere and resell them.
“Batswana never believe in what other Batswana can do. They would rather go buy from a shop,” added Kenosi.
She said that their outdoor and indoor decorating is not only limited to moulding vessels and flower pots.
“We also go in the field and decorate people’s homes, offices and apartments, using the same products that we are manufacturing here. We have been engaged by some companies from as far as Francistown to go and decorate their offices,” said Kenosi.
She added that they are engaged by individuals and companies to decorate using both live and dried flowers.
She said that they always harvest dried flowers from the bush while they buy live flowers from shops and from individuals.
Most people, however, prefer dried flowers outside their houses while live flowers are always displayed inside the houses.
Kenosi stated that pottery needs someone who is dedicated because it needs concentration and hard work. She termed her passion for pottery as a coincidence that emanated from boredom after completing her Cambridge Exams.
“After completing my Cambridge, I applied for a teaching course but I was not successful. While I was home, my mother proposed that I go and learn pottery. I couldn’t resist because I was always bored of sitting there doing nothing. I then went to learnt pottery,” she said.
By the time she finished her pottery course, she had developed a keen interest in it.
“Since I didn’t have machinery, I only coiled flower pots, basins, cups and vases. And I would take them for firing at Otse after the products dried up,” she said.
Kenosi said that at that time she displayed her products along the roads to attract customers.
Currently, the two operate their business, known as Bonatleng Investments at the Local Enterprise Authority Incubation Centre in Pilane.