In 2010, Lone Setimela was a Limkokwing University (Higher diploma in International Tourism) student on attachment at Lobatse’s famous Cumberland Hotel.
It was during this internship she began to plot a possible future in the world of laundry.
“When I worked at Cumberland Hotel as an intern I had to learn everything. There were eight of us, students, at Cumberland from different universities meant to spend at least a week in one department then swap with others, but I just loved the laundry room. The work was too much but I just had to be there,” reflects the 33-year-old Kanye native.
Graduation followed soon after her internship but Setimela quickly realised she did not have anything suitable to wear.
Desperate to shine or her special day, she paid her ‘hustler’ cousin, a student in Pretoria, a visit.
They went shopping in Johannesburg and, there it was, clear as daylight in dazzling bright lights: a board written Lamek’s Laundry Services.
“I stood there and said, ‘Wow! Interesting.’ And from that moment I knew what needed to happen next.
“I went online to research more about laundry services and how it all works. For four months I learnt everything I could about laundry services. The following year in November, with passion still burning I registered my business Lonelorato Laundry and Cleaning Services,” she says.
In January 2012, Setimela spent her school allowance on a dryer and a washer after securing space in Old Lobatse’s Barclays Band building and paying three months in advance.
The fact that she did not have a trading licence did not deter her and by March she was living her dream.
Since she was still employed working shifts, her sister helped out when she had morning shifts.
Though it might seem like her diploma was a waste of time, Setimela feels it ultimately led her to her true path.
“The hotel environment inspired me to open the laundry as well as events and deco businesses. Tourism doesn’t feature now because I decided to change my lane and become an entrepreneur but one day I will do something related to tourism again.”
As fate would have it when her brother got married the event planner didn’t bring enough manpower and that presented an unmissable opportunity. She started researching and soon she was planning events and doing deco.
By 2014, she had quit her job to concentrate fully on her own business.
Suspecting life could be tough without a fixed monthly income, Setimela used her employment benefits to enrol at Planet Nails in South Africa to learn how to do nails.
Armed with manicuring skills, she added a beauty spa to her business arsenal.
When Covid-19 lockdowns struck, the ever-resourceful youth turned her baking hobby into a business.
“I had to do something. There were no events and I just didn’t want to end up being too depressed,” she explains simply.
Occasionally, she experiences challenges such as uncommitted employees but she is a hands-on type of boss.
“I plan my week and my days. With the deco business, it’s very easy, I have people I work with. So normally our events have set dates and we are always ready for work; we keep our equipment clean and covered always so that it remains ready for any last-minute bookings,” she states.
With her busy schedule and multi-faceted enterprise, at times she struggles to give her three-year-old baby boy the needed attention. However, her loyal employees have her covered.
“I have people I work with so I just need to make sure everything is ready for the next day and it’s easier that way. Also, my spiritual director motivates me. And the inspiration I got from my former boss, Mr Darren Clarke at Cumberland.”
So, does she want to build a business empire?
“Yes, I want that. Even though it’s hard, I won’t give up. I have already come a long way!” she states, adding that in 10 years she intends to have expanded her operations into Gaborone and Palapye.
To anyone who wants to follow in her footsteps, she says hard work, perseverance and commitment pay.