Mother and daughter team-up on Woolaholic
Sitting at home with nothing to do, her brilliant mind restless and her fingers itchy, Florence Manase retrieved her knitting needles from the bedside cabinet.
She wasn’t to know it at the time, but it was on that cold winter’s morning in Francistown 11 years ago that Woolaholic was born.
“My husband and I had just relocated from Gaborone, where I was working at the University of Botswana doing research. Initially I started because I was bored but when I realised it could make money I took it a bit more seriously, eventually turning it into a small-scale business,” explains Manase, a Biochemist by profession.
The ‘small-scale business’, Woolaholic, officially began operating in 2010, with Manase working from home to supply locals, while also dressing her daughter in her handmade creations.
Using yarn and Macrame rope, imported from her native Zimbabwe as well as South Africa due to a lack of availability locally, the award-winning entrepreneur expertly stitches together various bags, baskets, tops and dresses from scratch.
“Basically, we produce anything that yarn can make. It’s all by hand, there’s no machine involved. Some items I line with matching ‘leteisi’, which makes them even more beautiful,” she tells Voice Money, the enthusiasm for her craft obvious in her revered tone.
Aside from her garments, which include winter wear such as beanies and shawls, Manase’s products are ideal for anyone looking to brighten up their homes.
“Essentially, what I aim to do is decorate a room using a one-colour theme – so the towel holder, bathroom matt and laundry basket for example.”
As well as the knitting needle, Manese is equally adept with the crochet hook, alternating between the two to make her products, which generally take a day to complete, depending on the complexity and size.
It is a skill that comes naturally to her, a childhood ability she picked-up from watching her mother and one she has in turn passed on to her own daughter.
Indeed, said daughter, 31-year-old qualified Architect, Tapiwa Manase – the very same young woman Manese used to dress up all those years ago – now plays a crucial role in the enterprise.
“To take Woolaholic to the next level, I roped in my daughter as a business partner; it’s a mother-daughter business! She is the advisor and lets me know what will work and what won’t, and also helps come up with designs.”
Their work has been showcased at Soweto Fashion Week and the Vuka Awards in South Africa, while locally the pair scooped second place in the Textile category at the BOCCIM (now Business Botswana) Trade Fair two years running.
Their prices range from P25 for a coin purse to P900 for a laundry basket, while bags, available in every conceivable colour, are the best sellers and average out at around P300. Other popular products include diaper holders and desk organisers.
Going forward, Manese, a committed Christian whose melodic voice can be heard reverberating around St Patrick’s church most Sundays, is keen to spread her talent to as many people as possible.
“My intention is to one day open a school, where I actually teach people how to do this. I feel it is sadly becoming a dying art and I want to help resuscitate it. In fact, we are hoping to introduce weekend courses as early as January – Tapiwa is actually working on a curriculum as we speak,” she reveals, adding she is excited at what the future holds.
For more information on Woolaholic, or for anyone interested in signing up for lessons, Manase can be reached on 71659062.