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Boitumelo Maswabi
THE TRIO: Phetlhe, Bielawska & Molefe (L-R)

Meet Michelle Phethle

The world of entertainment, events management and experiential marketing can seem like a never-ending party. On the contrary, it can be extremely demanding and exhausting, as Voice Woman learnt this past week when reporting on the various Miss Botswana events.

One thing that stood out for yours truly is that this year’s pageant was all about women empowerment; from key members of the organising team, pageant hosts, mentors, judges and consultants; to borrow Miss Universe 1999, Mpule Kwelagobe’s famous words, it was ‘a celebration of femininity’.

Voice Woman thus celebrates the phenomenal Michelle Phetlhe, owner of ESTeRES Boutique Agency, and chats to her about her exciting role as Miss Botswana 2021, Palesa Molefe’s chaperone as well as her upcoming events.

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Let’s start with a few details about you and the work you do: who is Michelle Phetlhe?

Michelle Phetlhe is a young Motswana woman who has for some years dedicated her life to personal development and empowerment of the girl child and all women in general.

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COMPANIONABLE: Michelle Phetlhe and Miss Botswana 2021, Palesa Molefe

Ke ngwana wa ko Molepolole with roots in Ramotswa, as well as Kimberly, on my mom’s side.

I am a happily married mother-of-two boys; also a businesswoman who is in pursuit of God’s will for her life.

You had the enviable role of working very closely with Miss Botswana 2021, Palesa Molefe (and by extension, recently, Miss World 2021, Karolina Bielawska).

The pair of you seemed to have a wonderful working relationship.

How and where did it all begin and how would you describe Mampale?

The managing director of DAI, Benjamin Raletsatsi, who overlooks the Miss Botswana contract, called me in.

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A few months ago, he asked me to chaperone former Miss Botswana, Palesa Molefe, on a ambassadorship slash PR training appreciation visit to South Africa, to which I obliged.

It was on this weeklong trip that I got to know Pale very closely.

She is an intellect of note, with a big heart; a beautiful welcoming smile, big dreams, huge ambition and all the potential in the world.

Ke ngwana wa Motswana, yo o itlhaloganyang thata le gone.

(She’s a grounded Motswana child; she has a good head on her shoulders).

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I love her dearly and got to understand first hand why Batswana do as well.

Upon returning, I was offered a post at Miss Botswana, as Consulting Organising Coordinator.

After three months, my road came to an end and I resigned.

I was later offered a different role and, the day before Miss World arrived, I was asked if I would manage/host her visit; a magnificent role I accepted, which I could naturally assume.

And has it all come to an end now that she’s passed the baton on to her successor, Miss Botswana 2022, Lesego Chombo?

In my observation, it is only the beginning for Palesa.

She is going to set a precedent as to what should truly transpire for our queens.

Gore ba seke ba fologa dinaledi tse ba di gatang during their reign, but rather shine forever.

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I also believe that, with the strength of character that our new queen, Lesego, has, she will aspire to take it a notch higher.

I did not have an official role with Palesa.

Our relationship is ongoing.

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Again, I do not have an official role with the reigning queen, having been with her for the first three months of the journey after auditions; naturally, I have a bond/relationship with the girls.

I am always a call away to her and all the girls.

I saw two Top 15 girls on Saturday who were so happy and grateful for lessons and experiences they took away from the process.

Will you also continue in this same role with the current queen?

It is my hope to always be a part of the personal development of all queens and aspiring queens, as I am sure all the ladies that I engaged with during the course of, or build-up to the finale, can attest to.

I want to see this pageant become the envy of the world.

What’s the highlight of your journey with Palesa?

It was learning new things; learning to think differently and to view things from different perspectives; laughing a lot and wholeheartedly, and really having transparent and vulnerable conversations.

She honestly became a little sister to me.

I should think my phone camera skills have greatly improved because of her as well.

She’s a whole artist and, every time I see her, I am affirmed that authenticity counts for everything.

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Were there any challenges you encountered along the way?

Of course, from an events management perspective, I can tell you that there are always challenges in execution, challenges in acquiring sponsorships timeously, and balancing everyday life commitments.

In the long run, we pray for the best and push through.

Let’s turn our attention to the work you do at ESTeRES Boutique Agency: a brief history…

I have been in the events and entertainment industry since high school, from planning elaborate birthday experiences and hosting Yarona FM Channel O parties, 152 & think, Oscar B and more.

While studying in Cape Town, I got bitten by the events bug because I was randomly asked to promote parties and club gigs and I just took it on, sort of knowing what was required.

When I think deeply about it, I feel it was my late mother’s love for throwing family birthday parties that I found comfort in this space.

This then naturally merged with my pursuit of a marketing qualification.

How many people do you employ?

My husband and I run the agency from a cloud model.

We have a semi-global team of designers; experiential executives, creative directors, videographers, strategists and event supply partners.

We employ on a project basis but regularly call back key personnel.

What’s the most memorable event you’ve organised?

It can’t be narrowed down to two. My brainchild, Women’s Etiquette Brunch (WEB) and its sibling, Just Sex – a Sexual Health and Wellness event, which will take place again on the 18th November at Cresta Lodge, also, which is not an event, but was a series of activation/promotions, was the launch of Durex Feels on tertiary campuses across Botswana.

These are the highlights.

I love everything creative and experiential that we do.

So, what advice would you share with anyone aspiring to go into events & marketing?

Firstly, do your research.

Make sure you’re not duplicating efforts.

Be bold and ready to stand out, and if you really want it, go for it because clients love a go-getter spirit, as they want their brands to be ahead of the curve.

What events are you planning currently?

Just Sex – a sexual health and wellness event on the 18th November.

We deliver tickets as part of our experience.

And, lastly, your vision for Esteres…

To be at the pinnacle of experiential creative greatness and to inspire and encourage young Batswana and the nation at large that we can really do it.

Re na le bokgoni jo bontsi tota.

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