Thursday, March 4, 2021

Beautifying Botswana with art

Tshepiso Maruping is inspired and motivated only by the purpose that she discovered God made her for when she was born-again a couple of years ago.

“That’s like the start of everything. I don’t like to do things for the sake of doing them so I want to know that whatever I’m doing is in line with some sort of purpose of the reason why I’m alive otherwise I feel like I’m wasting time. So I need the bigger picture. And I also need it just to get on and stuff. It’s all tough and it’s nice to be strong in faith and to know that it’s not all for nothing.”
She recently won an award at Global Expo. It was for the best SMME exhibitor.

“I got Bronze. It was very encouraging. I exhibit in different places every month. There is a monthly exhibit that I do at Bull and Bush. And I also exhibit at other places when I’m asked to. So I do a lot of that.”

Mtswana Designs is owned by a versatile and hardworking youngster aged 28 who is not one to back down when faced with challenges, which is why her company has been in business since she decided to start it in January 2012. The downs of the up and down struggle did not faze her; leading to her company being viable enough to be CEDA and the Department of Youth Funded. It has come a long way from a company that just made fine art t-shirts and cups to one that prints t-shirts and supplies retail stores in several places around Botswana.

“We do gifts for individuals but we offer custom printing services to corporates and also just for personal use. We basically do weddings, graduations and things like that. And we also do button badges. I’m forever working on the business to develop it more. I just see what the market needs. That’s why I’m forever changing that, improving that and tweaking that.”

When Mtswana Designs started business it concentrated mostly on making fine arts t-shirts.

“What that basically means is that we’d take staff made on Botswana and just paint it on t-shirts so it’d be like original arts on t-shirts. That’s how we started and then we ventured on just printing t-shirts.

“The market responded better to products that have been printed because they are more affordable. The artist thing was not really viable because it takes a whole lot of time to get a painting on one t-shirt and then there was the material. People weren’t willing to pay that price and also you can’t supply many in a very short time so I had to look into printing. And that’s what I do now and not so much the fine arts thing anymore.”

Maruping says that one doesn’t need to supply her with the t-shirts.

“I already have them. You just have to tell me what you want printed. But I also do the Botswana gifts and the Botswana t-shirts for retail.”

On where she got the funding she said that she got help from the department of youth and CEDA.

Asked how it is possible considering that rumours on the entrepreneur’ street are that you can’t get a loan from both facilities, Maruping elaborated on the matter saying, “If you get a loan from CEDA, you can’t get one from Youth. But if you get a loan from Youth; CEDA and other facilities don’t mind to assist you if you show them that you have a viable business plan.”

Talking about the beginnings of her company she said what inspired her was just seeing that there weren’t a lot of creative ideas around.

“I didn’t see really nice products around. Most of the stuff for shops were being supplied from SA. I saw a lot of creative stuff when I was in Malaysia (where she studied Graphic Designing), but I didn’t see it here so I just brought what I saw there, here.

“There was a place called the Craft Market in Malaysia. It had like nice things. I liked the quality and the variety of the products so then it was just nice to come and try to do something like that but using Botswana merchandising.”
On the market response she said that it has been good.

“Like I said there was a huge gap in any case. I started doing the Botswana products because I saw that most of them were actually coming from. Botswana t-shirts were being supplied from SA so it didn’t make sense. So it was a really really great product to start. There was a lot of support from the people I was going to, to provide service to.”

Maruping has an office, a studio and a workshop.

“But I also have some equipment at home so I can work from home.” She can be contacted on 72254867.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper