Wings Bridal Boutique making a mark Me and My Business
Growing up, Moeti Lesole was entranced by the glamour, magic and fun of weddings.
It was somewhat inevitable, then, that when the 35-year-old eventually spread her entrepreneurial wings, she flew in that direction.
“When I see the bride in that gown and the groom in that suit… Oh my God!” gushes the Shoshong native, her passion for her work obvious from the onset.
Nestled in Gaborone’s Block 3 shopping complex, her store is depressingly quiet. Lesole ruefully notes that were it not for the recent Covid-19 lockdown, her boutique would be a hive of activity, buzzing with prospective clients.
Wings Bridal Boutique designs, hires and sells wedding clothes, accessories and makeup.
Lesole originally set up the company in 2011 as OG Associates but later rebranded to the more relevant alias by which she trades today.
Speaking to Voice Money, the mother-of-two explains that before starting her own brand she worked for a number of Chinese businesses.
Already considering branching out on her own, it was Lesole’s last employer who finally convinced her to follow her heart and take the plunge.
“The boss at the Chinese food shop encouraged me to go into business and I took his advice and never looked back,” she reveals, adding that although she has no formal training in design, cutting or knitting, she honed her skills by watching clips on the Internet.
A benchmarking trip to China followed – a journey Lesole now embarks on every two years.
Emboldened by her Asian adventure, the entrepreneur finally felt ready to start her business, setting up shop in KB Mall.
Although she admits the industry is over-subscribed and competition fierce, Lesole says there is much camaraderie and collaborative support between rivals.
“When I was at KB Mall I had a small space and Thorium to compete with but they were very supportive and would send all clients who wanted to hire in my direction. I also have competition from Glow-up studio but we help each other and they buy from me when I come back from China,” she states.
Lesole’s expression takes on a darker tone when she talks about the challenges she faces.
She leans forward and says, almost conspiratorially, “Business was very good before Covid. Government isn’t fair to allow only a limited number of people to attend weddings. It doesn’t make sense that a full bus should be allowed to travel all the way to Maun yet people are not allowed to gather in an open tent for a wedding.”
Indeed, the wedding enthusiast fears the pandemic could prove the death of her once-thriving enterprise.
“They [Government] should sit with us to map a way forward because even though we have opened shop we just come to sit here without clients. A lot of weddings were postponed to next year but we still need to pay rent until December. We’re barely surviving; don’t be shocked to hear we’ve closed shop!”
Lesole is also critical of the government programmes available, noting they ‘look good on paper but accessing them is a nightmare’.
She wishes to expand in order to create employment but says it’s tough to get the assistance she needs.
“I think government would achieve high levels of employment if they could focus more resources into expanding existing businesses. But it seems they are more into funding start-ups.”
Despite her current struggles, the resilient lady is adamant she will weather the storm.
In 10 years Lesole believes she won’t have to travel to China because she would have established her own factory for bridal wear. She further discloses her intention to open a second branch in Maun.
“Creating employment is my calling and I won’t rest until I have created thousands of jobs. I have Chinese connections who have given me clients from Zambia, Tanzania and other places so I know I will achieve my goals.”
To ensure her dreams come true, Lesole is studying Business Management at Gaborone University College and is on Level two of Chinese language study.
Her advice to anyone interested in venturing into the wedding business is simple: ‘customer service is key’.
“You have to know how to deal with customers in all their moods. Some customers come excited and could make wrong choices if you don’t know how to handle them and this could blow back on you. Some are stressed by the wedding preparations and you should be ready with love and empathy.
“You should also focus on making your customers look good on their big day even if it means recommending your fiercest competitor,” concludes Lesole, her eyes alight with the same fierce passion that captivated her childhood all those years ago.