Gaborone — When one talks about football, the Moloi or Maposa brothers comes to mind, when talking about law scopes there should be a mention of the Dingake family and by the look of things, Lobelo sisters seem to continue the list of family members in the same profession by unleashing their potential in the fashion industry.
The name; Sweet Lobelo has been making the list of Botswana’s finest fashion designers and lately her sister, Keletso joined the band.
Ms Keletso Lobelo alias BossQueen is one of the youth who carved themselves a niche in the fashion industry. Her business project entails designing different kinds of hats such as caps, fascinators among others. The trade that complement her sister’s.
She has been operational since 2016 and since then she managed to create herself a positive image, pulling prominent individuals as her customers, she has also showcased and participated in high profile events locally and internationally.
In an interview, on the road she travelled to emerge with an inspiring story, Ms Lobelo the project enabled her to beat up the challenges she encountered.
She said anything done out of passion flourish, and that passion ignite one to come up with strategies that addressed any challenges that surfaced.
Ms Lobelo said prior to settling as a milliner, she worked with her sister, a known local fashion designer, Sweetie Lobelo, as a way to keep busy since she had quit her academics at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria.
She said in 2010 her mother passed on and she became unstable and could not focus well on her studies, therefore she quit. “When I came back home, my sister Sweetie took me on board so as to keep busy, but later on I felt the need to embark on my own project as a means of survival,” she said.
Ms Lobelo said although she settled for fashion design, she wanted something totally different from her sister and since she had always been passionate about hats she felt need to research more about hats so as to cultivate the path.
“I always had interest in hats, when I grew up I liked to compliment any of my dress code with a cap or a hat. I also grew up under the care of my father who also loved wearing different kinds of hats, and this propelled me, so I decided to follow the passion as a way of survival,” she said.
She took up a short course in millinery to gain exposure on the basic aspects such cutting, binding and use of wires to build up any desired hat structure among others.
She said upon completion she registered her business and operated Millinery Miller PTY Ltd and her slogan #look good and be divine, to emphasis her products are meant to compliment any outfits for one to look outstanding.
“I choose my company name to explain the expansive of my products; I want to be relevant in international markets. My target was to spread wings outside the country. Millinery simple means a collection of different hats while Miller means the designer hence the name I choose,” she said.
Ms Lobelo uses different pieces of fabrics to design her products, she has also been creative enough to use a lace of cocoons tied around a wire to design fascinators, and she also uses cultural items such as loselo and ditlatlana.
“I have drawn the inspiration to use cultural items from the research I carried out about hats in China. They also use such kind of materials and the hats came out perfect. The use of such materials would help me promote our culture,” she said.
Designing items for high profile events has become part of Ms Lobelo business practice, locally she has designed head gear and other accessories for Bots53 carnival and for the Mascom derby, and internationally she designed head gear for some participants at Durban July event.
Ms Lobelo said she had also participated in the Global Expo Ramp, Ms Botswana Consumer show and several other events hosted by the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development.
She has also participated across the borders at Swakopmund Fashion show week and at Fashion without boarders Fashion show at Santon in Johannesburg.
She said her other achievements included designing hats for the former Member of Parliament for Mahalapye East who was also the assistant Minister of Local Government Ms Botlogile Tshireletso, supermodel Kaone Kario among others.
Although Ms Lobelo seems to be at the top of her chosen path, she noted that all her success was not an easy task; instead the passion and the zeal to be financially independent forced her to push beyond limits.
Millinery Mille has not been spared from the wrath of the COVID 19 pandemic, most of her raw material was sourced from South Africa and since boarders are closed she struggled, but still the love she had made her improvise with the little she had so as to meet the demand of her customers.
Ms Lobelo said her dream was to design a fascinator for Queen Elizabeth 2 “I wish to design a fascinator for the Queen and I intend to use our traditional items such as loselo and leteise in the design, I want to be the first Motswana woman to penetrate the international market,” she said.
Source : BOPA