By Motlagae Konyana
Kaya 959 spent time with the amazing jean maker, Tshepo Mohala – Tshepo The JeanMaker at his new studios in Victoria Yards.
What tips can you offer people looking to start their own fashion business?
From my experience, the fashion business is not only about the glitz and glam. It’s quite an intense business with long hours, sleepless nights, dealing with difficult clients and great ones too. Running a fashion brand is capital intensive and if you don’t have any financial backing and/or the patience for it, you could find yourself in a deep depression. Something I experienced in 2017 when the brand Tshepo The JeanMaker was getting a lot of media love but the bank account dololo. But, thats what brand building is all about. Finding the balance between making money and building a national brand.
So if you want to go into fashion. you need to apply yourself and follow your passion.
How would you describe your brand?
Young, quirky, classic, African
Where do you get inspiration from? Are different collections inspired by different things?
I grew up listening to stories by my grandmother. Storytelling has been a huge part of my life. I studied filmmaking then dropped out to do fashion. However, storytelling is the core of our brand. The previous range we did was inspired by my ex-girlfriend and took that and packaged it in a classic pair of jeans, jackets, and dresses.
Why do you choose to model your own clothes?
In fashion school I was inspired by great name brands, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren who model their own clothes. When I started the brand it emulated my style and therefore the perfect model for my brand was myself. I guess alot of people have also suggested I should become a model and since that didn’t work out well, hey, I found a platform to do that.
Why is educating South Africans about fashion so important to you?
When I dropped out from film school, my folks were not really for the idea of fashion and I had to constantly show them the bigger picture. Coming from a place of no hope where designers end up in their home garages, I wanted to show my family and my community that you can build an empire in the fashion industry. South Africa is in a great space now a lot more people are patriotic about local brands and there’s hunger for homegrown products. Educating people plays a big role and allows local brands to grow and most importantly create employment not forgetting other opportunities that lie within the fashion chain.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I’ve always loved clothes and because of my background I couldn’t afford name brands so I decided to start.
What are you planning on doing with the skills that you have learned from Stitched By Standard Bank Threads?
Threads has really helped develop the businessman in me. Finding the perfect balance between me as a creative and the businessman and being able to grow the brand, create and implement systems that will scale my business.
I’ve also realised my weaknesses through the programme and I was able to find solutions that work, solutions that have been tried and tested by many.
What have you learnt in the Threads programme so far?
Fashion is like any other business. There are systems and that need to be applied in order to help stay in business and ultimately scale up fast.