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Designer nurtures childhood passion

by Sunday Express
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Nthatuoa Koeshe

GROWING up, Lerato Motjotji always stood out from her peers due to her unique self-designed outfits.

The 27-year-old designer is part of the generation that has been plagued by lack of employment but has opened her own clothing design business as an escape route.

She said the started having the urges as a young girl and would always have a different dimension for all the clothes that her mother bought her.

“With every piece of clothing that my mother bought me, I saw a different design which I could transform,” Lerato said.

It was that confidence that sealed her destiny even before she had reached the age of maturity where in most African societies one is expected to be old enough to make a decision.

Lerato told the Weekender she was always bound to be a designer because of her extreme fashion conscience.

A first of two children who was raised by a single mother in Ha Leqele in the Maseru district, Lerato completed her Grade 12 at St Rodrigue High School in Setleketseng in 2010. After that she enrolled at the Lady-D Academy of Fashion Design in Maseru’s Lithabaneng for two years and graduated with a certificate in 2012.

It was at that time that she started her own clothing line and called it Leem2. However, the label failed to go beyond a few fashion shows where it was exhibited at the time.

“After completing my degree in 2012, I then changed my clothing line to Mount Culture. I decided to focus on designing modernised clothes from cultural material,” Lerato said.

She added that her intention with the clothing line was to modernise what most people think is too cultural by giving it fresh designs.

Lerato said while she is enjoying her craft, most people who love wearing locally designed clothes complain about the relatively high prices.

“Most people complain without considering the fact that to come up with a garment I have to buy expensive material and put in labour. That means my designs do not come cheap,” she said.

The designer said she hopes to open a fashion studio in the future so that she can also have clients walking in to view designs before they order.

“I want a studio where I can be able to design and sell all the clothing I design,” she said adding that she believes that will also expose her to a larger market.

Asked if the completion which already existed in the country did not intimidate her, Lerato said she was not intimidated because most local designers lacked authenticity.

She said she has capitalised on uniqueness which has set her apart from the rest.

Having designed for some of the Miss Lesotho 2012 contestants, she now hopes to design for more prominent people who will give her work more exposure in all corners of the country and across the border.

Lerato said she currently has bikinis made from seshoeshoe fabric on the market which have fared well although she would have sold more if she had a design studio. The bikinis are in line with her inclination to summer as she makes more revenue during the summer season.

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