Meet the Boss
Growing up, every child has dreams of what they would like to one day become in life.
For most, these fantasies fizzle away as they get older.
This is not the case for 27-year-old fashion designer, Gomotsegang Dipuo, who is living her childhood dream.
A bug that bit early in life, when, as a little girl, she would sew clothes for her dolls, has grown stronger over time.
Turning her passion for fashion into a paying reality, Dipuo founded Ser Consolado, a fashion stable based in her hometown of Maun, finally opening a studio in May this year. This is her story to date…
Kindly introduce yourself?
I am a Limkokwing University Alumni, Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur.
My brand, Ser Consolado is based in my hometown, Maun.
Unusual name – how did you come up with it?
The name Ser Consolado is Portuguese – it means ‘be consoled’ which is a translation of my name ‘Gomotsegang’.
I wanted my brand name to be unique yet sentimental and catchy.
You certainly achieved that! So tell us a bit more about your background in fashion.
My journey started from early childhood when plying with my dolls; it was evident that I loved making clothes as I would design and sew clothes for them.
I went on to study Home Economics at Junior School to perfect my basic sewing skills then proceeded to do Fashion and Fabrics at Senior School.
I am holding an Associate Degree in Fashion and Apparel Design, basically living my dream!
And before opening your own studio, what were you up to design wise?
While still at university and learning more about the fashion industry, I would voluntarily work as an assistant at fashion shows, which gave me the opportunity to polish my skills and perfect my craft.
It inspired me as I later started to showcase at some of the shows too and gained exposure as a young designer.
When I completed my Associate Degree in 2018 I decided to work for a few seasoned local designers to gain even more experience with the end goal of one day opening my own design studio and growing my own brand.
How would you describe the local fashion industry?
It is full of talent and creativity.
It is progressively growing into an industry that can export world class closets, designers, models and brands to the rest of the world.
What are your biggest achievements?
Finally opening my own design studio earlier this year after years of sewing in my room and laying a good foundation for my business.
More recently, getting Position 3 at the National Arts Festival 2022 in the fashion Design Category.
Which shows have you showcased at as Ser Consolado?
I had an opportunity to showcase at Mascom Derby fashion show in 2022 and 2017, Miss Botswana Top 30 fashion Show 2021, President’s Day Arts Competitions 2018, Masa Square Hotel fashion show 2017, Fashion Without Borders 2017 and Eco-Couture fashion show 2016.
As a young designer, how did you penetrate the market?
Penetrating the local fashion scenes as a young designer has been easy for me because of the great research and focus I have always put forward.
I dedicated the past years to being a student in and outside the classroom and that allowed me to learn a lot about the field before growing into an independent and established designer.
From working backstage at shows such as Fashion X, showcasing at Fashion Without Borders, job shadowing designers such as Lesedi Matlapeng, Lorato Barwabatsile, Abigail Sehunelo, Aobakwe Molosiwa and participating in various fashion events, all this gave me the opportunity to have a closer look at the industry, the market, how to build a successful brand, local consumer’s buying habits and many other aspects of being a fashion entrepreneur.
This made it easy for me to work my way up from being an aspiring designer to now being amongst the next group of designers to watch out for in terms of growth.
How do you operate in terms of production?
At Ser Consolado we design bespoke fashion pieces per order.
However, depending on the season we do take bulk orders for garments such as uniforms, protective clothing and others.
We occasionally have ready-to-wear garments produced in small collections for clients.
Mass production is part of our future plans for the business.
What are your challenges?
As a business based in Maun, one of the biggest challenges is accessing fabrics and materials, because of very few suppliers and having to source fabrics from as far as Gaborone.
Hopefully this can be turned into a business opportunity.
What do you offer that is different from other fashion designers?
When I design, I mostly like to choose fabrics that have fun, colourful and modern feel unlike the usual German or African prints.
Every piece must look like it was bought at a boutique or exclusive store in terms of colour, fabric, texture, quality and finish.
What are your aspirations as a fashion house?
I am working very hard to grow my brand into a household name and explore other parts of the fashion industry such as shoes, accessories and cosmetics.
I aspire to be a globally recognised African designer and take my work to international runways.
And how is the business doing so far?
My brand has been received very well by the market at large.
Our clientele is growing, my work is being appreciated and recognised and I am confident that our future marketing strategies will attract even more clients for my business.
Setting up a studio is costly, how did you finance it?
After saving up to expand my business and buying more sewing equipment despite the Covid-19 interruptions, I was able to move my business from home and into a more suitable office with assistance from the Youth Development Fund program in May 2022.
How has your business grown over the years?
I have been in business for the past six years as I started sewing and selling clothes during my first year of university.
The growth has been tremendous in terms of sales quality and establishing my clientele in the market.
Who is Ser Consoldo’s target Market?
My brand is for fashion lovers with a taste for pieces that exude elegance with a modern touch of fun expressed through colour and fabrics.
How many jobs have you created so far?
My business currently employs two young ladies on a part-time basis – they help me with sewing and garment construction.
More and permanent job creation is our goal as the business expands.
How did Covid-19 affect the fashion industry?
The fashion industry was greatly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in many ways: from loss of profits, businesses closing down, loss of employment as well as disruption in the supply of fabrics and production in general.
The local industry therefore suffered too as we buy materials from shops that source their supplies from across the borders.
Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions also affected our sales as a lot of events and gatherings such as wedding celebrations, graduations were put on hold; these are events which usually bring in a lot of clients for local businesses.
Personally the pandemic affected my business plans of opening my studio as I had to put them on hold with the many uncertainties business owners faced in the past two years.
I continued to work from home and re-evaluated my future business strategies.
However, I also managed to benefit from the few opportunities the pandemic presented such as the production and supply of face masks which helped keep my business afloat .
What do you do when you’re not designing?
I spend my free time with family and attending to my three-year-old daughter.
My other interests include: reading, learning basic hair, makeup and nail technician skills.