Tuesday, September 28, 2021

When passion fuels the craft – the story of Tuelo Molefhi

With skyrocketing numbers of unemployment in this country young people are now becoming more innovative and starting up businesses. They are turning their passions into monetary value as following one’s passion has never been so crucial in the world we are living in now. 

The same can be said for 32 years old, Tuelo Molefhi who found her passion in crocheting. This has become her bread and butter and her pride.

She worked a few odd jobs after completing her studies but could not find anything that really resonated with her. An Advanced Diploma in Human Resources Management holder who used to crochet as a hobby finally decided in 2020 that she would learn crocheting professionally and start doing it to create an income stream for herself.

She found her teacher on Facebook who then taught her the technique and basics of crocheting. 

Molefhi makes handbags, hats, floor mats, baskets, bikinis, socks, new born baby outfits and a whole lot more. She can even custom design some products for her customers. 

Her first clients were her family and friends and from their approval that’s when she ventured out to sell to the public.

Popularly known as Miss T she opted to make her name a trademark. Her crocheting business which goes by the brand name, Handmade by MissT is a force to reckon with as she has the drive and enthusiasm fuelled by passion to make sure her brand grows and stands out. 

On weekends when she is not crocheting or tending to her family she attends market day events across the city and in other parts of the country so that people can see her and get acquainted with her work. 

She says she puts her heart and soul into every product she creates and this can be seen in her products that scream for your attention when you first see them on display. Some items can take days to finish crocheting like blankets and other hand bags or floor mats depending on the size and style.

Just like other people her business has also been severely affected by Covid-19. She was just starting out when the Covid-19 pandemic hit Botswana. But that did not deter her from turning her passion into a tangible money making business. She heavily relies on social media to market her products. 

Another big problem that was brought about by Covid-19 was the shortage of material in shops. 

“Most of the material I use to crochet is only manufactured outside Botswana. This meant a delay in my supply and sometimes the none availability of the materials which resulted in a loss of business.” She noted.

Molefhi also noted that some materials are expensive which then means she has to scale up on her pricing which sometimes leads customers complaining. 

“I would like my customers to understand that all my work is hand made from start to finish and this could take hours or days to perfect in some instances. Some materials and accessories that I put on my products are quite costly and this ends up determining my pricing.” She said.

In the next 3-5 years she wants to have a fully-fledged Online Crocheting business with a recognizable brand. This is why she puts all her effort in making her products appealing to stand out from her competitors and also trying to keep up with what is new.

In terms of sourcing funding from government financial institutions, she admits that she needs it but she feels like people don’t know her yet and therefore should establish a name for herself first before going that route.

“The funding can help me buy material but I feel like I should build my brand first and have a broad clientele before I can ask for funding.” She said.

Molefhi is also increasing her knowledge and learning new skills in order to expand her business. She has recently started learning how to knit.

She is also expanding her product range into making winter jerseys this year. Most of her customers are women but she is now extending it to make it inclusive to men. 

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