All women like to dress up and many of them do not mind to part with extra notes of their hard earned cash just to look smashing and make the right impression.
This is the kind of predicament, Yaona Sebedi Mokgatle was in when she couldn’t find the right handbags to match with her casual outfits and when she began to make herself a few trendy items of this vital accessory, little did she know this was the birth of a business venture branded ‘Green Apple’.
Using her knowledge and skill as a Home economics teacher, the 36 year old mother of two had order trickled in from friends and relatives for her casual handbags.
“Am currently still making these handbags as a hobby and my lounge is my workshop at the moment. In the long run I hope to turn into a fully fledged business. I was motivated when I saw the bags catch people’s attention and it was then that I realised I had talent and if I pursued it further I could make something out of it. Something that would benefit me,” she said.
Just to show how serious she is about her enterprise Mokgatle has even registered Green Apple as a brand. “I did this in 2011, because I wanted my handbags to have an identity, so customers are to know where and by whom the merchandise d is produced.
The choice of the name is related to a personal health problem I had and the green apple was the answer to my digestive problem.
In short this is how green apple became my favourite fruit”, continued the mother who used to sell clothing from Asia.
The Green Apple handbags are made from an assortment of material ranging from denim, leather, and wool verso and from material which is hard and durable.
Also to make her make her accessories to stand out, various techniques of textile technology are used.
“I crocket, knit, weave and sew depending on the design and texture of material. Because of the passion I have for what I’m doing, I am always on the lookout for new ways, materials to enhance the handbags I make. The internet has been very handy as well in order for me to have an idea what is being used in other markets. As I shop and move around I to get ideas for designs, colours and so on. I have sourced some of my supplies from as far as China,” she narrated.
Besides researching and developing her product, Mokgatle has not forgotten to empower herself with the necessary skills to manage her home based business.
“In 2010 I sponsored myself to train at Rural Industries Innovation Centre (RIC) on how to make leather bags and related items, as a way to add value to what I do. I also have a basic business management qualification from Francistown Vocational Training Centre (FVTC)”, said the mother who juggles a family and full time employment.
“I do this all on my own, during my spare time. At times it means in the early hours of the morning in order to fulfill clients’ orders. At times I don’t get time to visit friends and relatives because am swamped with work, every little time I get I spend it on my hobby. Am passionate and love what I’m doing,” she added.
Apart from friends, colleagues and relatives being her main clientele, Mokgatle has set up stalls in malls around town and has managed to clinch a deal with one retail outlet at Marang Mall.
“It’s from family that I get most of my orders and I also get referrals from as far as Molepolole. Last year I exhibited at Northern Trade fair for the first time, I saw it as an opportunity to sell myself and what I do. Overall I am pleased with what I have achieved so far. What I’m doing is giving me a good return on investment and motivating me a lot. When I started I injected P500, but now in a good month I pocket P2000 or more”, she said.
In the next few years she sees herself concentrating and exert all her energies into Green Apple, her brand well known and her products being sold countrywide and abroad.
At some stage I will leave my teaching job, make way for other people, and begin creating employment for others,” smiles Mokgatle.