The business beads

The business beads

MASERU – WHAT was regarded as a hobby by some is turning into a source of livelihood for ’Maboikano Makhasane, who is making strides towards becoming the country’s next fashion accessories queen.
The 24-year-old from Leribe started Royal Afrique, a beads accessories business last year, a sharp departure from what could have been her career.
At one point, it seemed Makhasane was headed for life as a pharmacist after she enrolled at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) in 2012 to study pharmacy.
This was a result of being pushed by her high school teachers, who were impressed by her academic prowess, pressured her to enroll for the degree.
But then, she just did not enjoy the course and it showed early enough. She failed her first year at the university. Her sights were on becoming a designer, a vocation that many regarded more as a hobby than real work.

In 2015, she enrolled with the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology where she studied Fashion Design but had to drop out in 2017 due to circumstances beyond her control.
Makhasane was not deterred and she refused to abandon her dream.
“Since that was my dream, I didn’t give up just because my hope to obtain Degree in Design was crumbling,” Makhasane says.
Today, her business is into head pieces, neckpieces, shoulder beads, body beads, earrings, bracelets, hand bangles and other beaded accessories.
For Makhasane, design was more than just a profession. It was a dream that she intended to pursue despite the hurdles she was facing.
She explains that as a child, she was passionate about drawing, creating new things and sewing dresses for her dolls.
“The latest designs that I would come across, I would make sure that my dolls owned one,” she says.
Makhasane says she even used to draw in her mother’s diaries and she would be spanked for it.

During school breaks and to kill boredom, she would draw and sketch dress designs. She says even the covers of her school books were filled with drawings, especially sketches for dresses.
She says she became one of the top students while studying fashion design at college, scoring high marks especially for sketches. Her work would even be posted on the school walls to inspire other students and she later designed the dress for a friend who was competing in a beauty pageant in Nigeria.
“The dress had some decorative designs with beads in the shoulders,” she recalls.
While she was playing with the beads, creating some items with them, Makhasane realised she could do more with her hands.
“The creature looked more the same with the necklace,” she says, adding that when she was finished, she had a necklace representing Basotho culture.
She says through that first piece, she realised she could generate “serious money” out of designing.

While she was still thinking and looking at her first design neckpiece, something came to her mind.
“I have seen Basotho women putting on neckpieces and earrings made from beads which are mostly used by Xhosas to represent their culture,” she says.
She says that is when the idea to make accessories that represent Basotho’s culture hit her.
She made more pieces and showcased them to close associates who were surprised by her talent.
“The reaction opened up my eyes even more and I realised that this is not just a dream but a gift,” says the mother of two.
However, it was only in May this year that she created a Facebook page to market her products and the demand and support have been overwhelming, she says.
The energetic entrepreneur says she never dreamt of making beaded accessories while growing up. Her only dream was to be a fashion designer.
“I like making African wear,” she says.

Makhasane points to Nonzamo Mbatha as an example of a designer who incorporates African accessories into red carpet wear, something that has caught her attention.
Business “is promising”, she says, adding that more people are showing interest in her products although the venture is still in its infancy.
Makhasane says she has been invited to some exhibitions.
At one of the exhibitions – the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo – she managed to submit her products to be showcased in China.
She says her goal is to see her business flourish with a uniqueness that represents local culture.
She says she has realised that African wear is fast becoming a popular trend that is easily recognisable and this presents an opportunity for her.
To young people, she has simple advice: “pursue your dreams.”
“We take longer time to get what we want because we may be pushing other people’s dreams and compromising on our own,” she says.

Refiloe Mpobole


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