The re-usable pad

The re-usable pad

MORIJA-IN the past, Nthabiseng Mohanela has used her skills as a musician, creative artist, activist and researcher to make a difference among young people.

Now, the 28-year-old is touching lives with her latest initiative: making reusable sanitary pads for young girls.
Made from cotton foam, the pads have great absorption quality and can be reused for at least two years, she said.

“This was very huge…I hope many girls won’t have to miss school because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads,” she told thepost, highlighting that the materials she uses are very affordable.
She started the business in 2016.

“It was inspired by being broke. I was very broke as a young mother and I wanted to make a living and leave a legacy for my family and child,” she said.
She said it is important for every child to have access to sanitary pads to avoid resorting to pieces of cloth.
With the outbreak of Covid-19, technology has played a vital role in reaching out to people, said Mohanela, who used her huge social media presence to draw people to her latest project – Sustainable Pad.

“It is a very new project and technology has helped me gain new support. I posted a trial run pad and it has gained so much traction,” she said.
She said she has received the support of the Big Six fast food outlet, which is willing to donate money and machines to help with production.
“They understand the vision,” she said.

She said she has been in contact with a sanitary pads manufacturing company seeking advice about the designs she should try out.
“We have done this through zoom calls and other social media platforms,” she said, adding that more research on her product is still ongoing.
Mohanela, popularly known as TeReo Sapphire Soul Child, owns an arts and entertainment business that focuses on arts, crafts and music.

“I recycle plastic and fabric from different sewing dressers, clean it up and prep it and get it ready for production,” said Mohanela, who holds a BA Honors Degree in Interior Architecture from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.
She said she runs workshops to raise awareness on sustainable living and conservation.

She said the mission from the onset was to provide information, educate, entertain and bring a different kind of awareness “about starting from nothing and making something great”.
She said one of her projects is called Trash to treasure.
“I repurpose materials to make functional art. I believe in just making beautiful art that cannot only decorate a space but also art that can be used and that is functional,” she said.

She said her parents were artists but they wanted her to be more academic because they feared she would not be able to make a living from art alone.
“Something that will make them safe is that I will have enough money as a back-up plan.”
She said her mother is a dressmaker and her father is an all-round carpenter, builder and electrician.

“He is worldly, knowledgeable about handicrafts and I think I take some of the skills from my father and definitely some from my mother,” she said.
She said she looked up to her mother as a designer.
“She gave me an eye for quality as she always told me not to cheat when doing things.”

“I look up to them because I realise I have all these skills because of them.”
She said her father always taught her to save up as they were running a small business selling cold drinks and ice blocks.
“I have been making money and working with people for the longest time since I was a little girl.”

Her aim is to make other people see value in the arts industry.
“I have explored so much in music ability to educate kids as a way of stretching out my vision through teaching,” she said, noting that a start up in the arts industry does not require much capital.
“All one needs is a skill, which requires time not money. That’s my thinking,” Mohanela said.

She said her public relations skills played a big role in her career.
“I think I am able to articulate my ideas to the relevant people and I believe I have a strong relationship with other artists. Trust is gold,” she said.
Regarding her sanitary pads business, Mohanela said she is not looking back, adding her research had shown that only two other companies make reusable sanitary pads locally.

She said one of the companies invited her for a workshop to share ideas.
“I am dealing with competition by joining them and I believe in kopano ke matla (unity is strength). Together we can cover more ground and help more vulnerable girls in remote areas in need of pads,” she said.
However, due to Covid-19, business has been slow.

“Our last workshop was before the lockdown and the studio was boosted by international gigs via recordings.”
She said that is why she is trying to venture into broadcasting for universities such as LUCT.

“I would love to pay back to the institution by partnering with them, we have only done a proposal but we see potential,” she said.
She said coming second in the Tangerine-organised Hook-up-Dinner competition was validation of the potential of her business.
“That moment makes me very proud because all the lessons I received for the dinner molded me into a better person,” she said.

The dinner, which brought businesses together to exchange ideas and forge partnerships, was held two months ago but it has changed Mohanela and how she does things.
“I see myself in business in a different way now. I feel confident, I am less intimidated and I feel I can take on any challenges.”
She said although Covid-19 has affected her income, “things are also gradually happening”.

“It’s a good balance and I don’t want to say everything is completely destroyed because Covid-19 has inspired fluidity, adaptability and change. We need to find a way to gracefully transcend to more adaptable living.”
She said the people who have inspired her are people running artistic businesses like fashion designer Thabo Makhetha who makes beautiful jackets and coats using a Basotho Seanamarana blanket.

“The branding is remarkable and she aspires to find a proper branding for her products that can catch even international eyes because we don’t just want to serve Basotho but go all the way across the world,” she said.
She said Itumeleng Mothobi also inspires her a lot when it comes to business “as she is a very driven woman with a beautiful relationship with her customers”.

“Mothobi is an inspiring overall human being and I look up to her a lot.”

’Mapule Motsopa

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