‘ONCE’ is a brand created by Otsile Motswaledi in 2005. He and new business partner, Bonita Rathedi, are now fixing to ensconce themselves into Gaborone’s t-shirt market.
“During the days I was employed at O’Hagan’s Pub; the staff used the word ‘once’ as an affirmation to statements,” recalled Motswaledi fondly. “One would say, ‘I am going to Chez Ntemba after work,’ and the other would respond by saying ‘Once, why not?’”
Motswaledi, having learnt some t-shirt printing methods from a friend, designed the first t-shirts, which he says all the O’Hagan’s staff bought. Motswaledi adds that some of the clientele at O’Hagan’s liked them too and started ordering them.
The sales made Motswaledi consider turning his Once t-shirts into a viable business appealing to the youth. “I registered a business and designed various Once emblems on CorelDraw.”
“I have always been interested in fashion,” said Bonita Rathedi. “And when I saw an article published in Echo about Otsile Motswaledi and his new brand last month, I knew I wanted to work with him on the t-shirts. I called up and enquired about him, spoke to him and eventually became partners with Motswaledi in establishing Once.”
Rathedi appeared at the interview dressed in cargo pants and radically altered popular sports brand t-shirt that looks more retro as a result.
“My job is altering Once t-shirts to clients’ requirements; we order basic t-shirts and alter them to get different looks like this one.” Standing up to give me a better look of her interestingly modified t-shirt.
“I never liked wearing basic t-shirts as they were, and have been altering clothes instinctively but I am learning a couple of new methods,” she said.
Motswaledi estimates that currently there must be about 30 local t-shirt brands and what will set them apart from the rest will be their diversification. “We even plan to brand water bottles,” adds Rathedi.
Currently, Motswaledi and Rathedi work from a space in the Main Mall, opposite Furnmart, next to Lewis.
“We are currently working on launching a series of Once t-shirts in July, and have spoken to potential sponsors for the launch.
“We will exhibit clothes we hope will have a universal appeal.”