There is a hairdresser around almost every corner in Botswana.
With such supply outweighing demand, trained hair professional, Kemmonye Maggie Lovue felt she had no alternative but to find a different way to make a living.
In 2018, she left her job as a hairdresser to sell clothes and jewellery; despite numerous challenges, it is a decision she does not regret for a second.
Today the 41-year-old is the proud owner of Lovue Enterprise, a business that manufactures swabs, school uniforms, wedding garments, men’s suits and African attire.
They also retail perfumes and jewellery.
Her venture, which operates at Gaborone Bus Station’s bustling Market Plaza just in front of Dynamic Cash and Carry, has blossomed big time since its early days.
“When I was buying and selling Chinese school uniforms I realised that people were complaining about poor quality and decided to learn to make my own clothes. I started with school tracksuits but now all the clothes here are made by Lovue Enterprise,” Lovue tells Voice Money, adding she has no formal training in fashion design, gaining the skill from watching a friend who was already in business.
Business was good until Covid-19 came and with it lockdowns, which affected all businesses not considered essential, including hers.
Although lockdowns are now in the past, business is yet to fully recover, with Lovue pointing to the war in Ukraine for affecting customers’ buying power.
Poor quality Chinese school uniforms are also giving her sleepless nights.
“Material for good quality uniforms is expensive and this poses a challenge for us because customers need to save every thebe they can and go to the cheap Chinese. You see cost of living has gone up exponentially but salaries are still low. Rent is also too high. The other problem is that there is no local garment manufacturer,” notes Lovue.
Shrugging off such problems with a determined sigh, the entrepreneur adds defiantly, “You just have to tell yourself that challenges are part of business.”
Lovue has to juggle her business with the responsibilities of being a mother.
It would be better if she could afford a maid but the pace of business does not allow for such luxuries.
Though her 19-year-old daughter helps out both at home and at work, she has to worry about her disabled child who needs constant attention.
Despite all the challenges stacked against her, Lovue is thinking about expanding.
In five years she expects to be selling fabrics.
She also doesn’t want her beauty therapy training to go to waste so is working on opening a hairdo operation at home where she already operates a convenient store (tuckshop).
To anyone wishing to go into this kind of business, she advices persistence; this is no get rich quick scheme.
“There are major challenges but you just have to be patient and resilient. Even if you can spend the whole day without selling anything you shouldn’t give up. This winter was so tough that we didn’t sell a single winter item!”