A passion for fashion and all kinds of denim
East Rand entrepreneur Tshepo Mohlala has turned his passion into a thriving business.
Mohlala, the founder of Tshepo The Jeanmaker Fashion House, was born in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga but grew up in Springs. He has been working on turning his denim enterprise into a powerful African fashion brand.
Founded in 2015, the business specialises in stylish jeans, jackets, and dungarees. He describes his range as clean, simple, sophisticated, practical and functional.
His jeans are sold through his online store, and their prices range from R900 to R2000.
The 25-year-old entrepreneur says he uses social media to market his business and interact with customers.
"We tried to open a physical shop but it did not work out. But the online store works better for us."
His biggest dream is to take his brand to another level, and ensure that the business reaches its full potential.
Mohlala enjoys being in the industry but he knows that it is a niche market.
"Selling jeans is difficult because I am competing with big retail shops like Mr Price and others. In the past year or so I have seen growth in the business."
Like all SMEs he has challenges that hinder his business from growing. The biggest issue for him is getting more clients and improving his distribution.
Most importantly, the material he uses to make jeans has to bought in Cape Town, Kimberley and Lesotho.
"There are many challenges because it is expensive to buy all this material in different areas. The correct and quality material for jeans comes from outside Johannesburg."
Mohlala's passion for fashion started at a young age. He claims he is one of the pioneers of the ripped jean.
While he was a fashion design student in 2011, he started a brand called Solomon's Colonnade. He used to buy second-hand suits from jumble sales, tailor and dry clean them and then re-sell them.
After he dropped out of fashion school, he worked with fashion guru Felipe Mazibuko.
Mohlala recently participated in the Business of Fashion accelerator programme called Threads that is driven by marketing agency NONZeRO and Standard Bank. The programme targeted entrepreneurs who need support in 'professionalising' their enterprises and making them profitable.