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How did you become a designer?
I have always been more in touch with my artistic and creative side since an early age. I would actually say (without the risk of sounding cheesy) it always flowed in my blood, but my interest in designing and making clothing I discovered late in primary school, and I have never parted ways with it since.
When you started your journey as an entrepreneur, did you expect it to be somewhat similar to how it actually is?
Not at all. The journey has been way more challenging than I expected it to be. Challenging to the point that had I not had such great support from my mentors and my family, I would have quit. But as challenging as it has been, I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey and all my challenging experiences. Experience is the greatest teacher. I am just grateful that I had such a supportive structure that keeps me motivated even till this day.
When did you start your brand herRitual and what is the meaning behind the name?
I started the conceptualisation of my brand in 2014, gave birth to it in 2015. herRitual… my craft for me has always been way deeper than just producing pretty products for women. It’s about connecting to the women who purchase the pretty products I produce, and passing on the message of self love and self appreciation. That’s my infinite quest, my ritual, reaching as many women and together celebrating our greatness. I guess that’s how the name derived. My ritual for her is to make self love and appreciation herRitual.
As a female designer and business woman, do you feel any disadvantage within the fashion industry or the business landscape in South Africa in general compared to your male colleagues?
The challenges may not be as visibly as with other industries, but as a female entrepreneur who deals more with male employees, I have realized its more challenging trying to win the respect of my male counterparts.
But I would rather not dwell on this issue much, I feel that when we focus our energy more on these challenges, rather than focusing on finding solutions, change can’t really be achieved.
What career advise would you give a young female design student that you haven’t been given when you started out?
The gap between the industry itself and studying is huge, therefore it is very crucial that you have an open mind. Be open to learning and unlearning. Find mentors who shares similar interests as you and absorb as much knowledge from them like a sponge. You can have as much resources, but resources without the necessary knowledge can be wasteful.
What does Women’s Day mean to you, personally?
Women’s Day to me is about celebrating the liberation of women. A reminder to own who we are and the limitless power we hold within us.
In South Africa, what can men specifically do to improve gender equality in their day to day lives?
It starts with simply acknowledging male privilege. Most men have enjoyed this privilege without fully being aware of it because they were born into it as a result of patriarchy.
Being genuinely aware of this will help inspire change. Influencing more fathers to raise daughters in a more liberating manner that allows them to own their power, and thrive to be the best versions of themselves. Raising them to be leaders rather than followers and teaching them the necessary skills to do so, as they would mostly teach their sons.
As the woman you are today, what advise would you give the 16 year old Tshego for the future?
Dear Tshego, you are enough, you have always been enough and you will always be enough. The power you need to add value to this world lies within you. Believe in your dreams, go out there and do great things with them. And when you fall somewhere along the journey, see that as a learning experience rather than a failure, and always remember to find joy in the journey.