Princess Bokang and Super Shabba clothing labels growing from strength to strength
The yearning to have every African child feel worthy and validated was the motivating factor behind businesswoman and former Miss South Africa Bokang Montjane founding her latest venture, a clothing label.
Rather than complaining about the lack of representation and positive images that black children can aspire to, Montjane collaborated with her husband, football star Siphiwe Tshabalala, to bringing to life a line of children's clothing aptly named Princess Bokang and Super Shabba.
Their faces are proudly emblazoned across the merchandise.
The line is now distributed through retail giants Jet and Edgars, but bringing the idea to life has required determination, patience and resilience, particularly as the couple had very specific ideas about what they wanted. Montjane explained what the inspiration behind the project was, detailing the origins and journey required to come this far.
"We had spoken about it while still dating but I think our son was our biggest inspiration. When we found out I was pregnant, we realised our unborn child would have to wear clothes that don’t have faces that would represent him or her. We realised there’s a gap in the market and decided to work on it. I strongly believe in the power of representation and that it definitely has a huge impact on how we see ourselves," Montjane said.
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Our Feb/March Range has landed in stores!!! Princess Bokang and Super Shabba in @jet_fashion stores NOW!!! mommy's and daddy's get your little one inspired by an African Hero and Princess that looks like them!!! #ItsTimeForFreeAfrica #PrincessInMe #HeroInMe #PrincessBokang #SuperShabba #SBKidsza #NewRange #Jet
Still, it was not all smooth sailing and the road was littered with the usual challenges experienced by business people, regardless of their celebrity status, she says.
"It wasn’t easy at all. We got a few rejections and when we couldn’t find funding, we decided to save up and do an entire range and start on our own. As we were about to launch, we set up a meeting with Jet and they absolutely loved our products and said 'yes' on the spot.
"I believe it’s important to share the ups and mostly the downs because it’s not easy to get people to buy into your dreams. But as long as you believe in it, you need to continue pushing. You will get a couple of no’s and I believe it’s all part of the process, preparing you."
The decision to prominently feature the duo's faces on the items was an easy one to make, with Montjane hell-bent on celebrating her roots from a village in Limpopo, and Tshabalala, who plays his football in Turkey, likewise priding himself on being a boy from Soweto.
"I truly believe in the power of both our journeys and I have seen the impact my story has had on young girls when I tell them I’m a rural village girl, and I became Miss South Africa. By simply sharing that story gives them permission to believe in the power of their dreams."
"So, sharing my husband's story - a boy from Soweto who becomes a football legend - will give township and rural boys hope. "
Princess Bokang being from a village and not needing a prince to be a princess and getting the biggest crown in the country will prove to little girls that they can achieve anything they put their minds to. My hope is that both these stories show young African boys and girls that they are not defined by their backgrounds," she said.
Montjane is hoping to expand the range to other retailers in years to come, but in the meantime, the 32-year old beauty has something in the pipeline for mothers in May. "We have something exciting for moms with Jet in May as it is mothers' month and this will be the first of its kind".
In the meantime, Montjane, while not quite resting on her laurels yet, has allowed herself moments of pleasure and content when walking through the doors of her local Jet or Edgars.
"There is nothing as satisfying as walking into a retail store and seeing our brands of an African super hero and an African princess with brown skin and natural hair. This will make every child feel worthy and valid and enough."