Rags to riches: How a kasi man used denim to create his empire

Rags to riches: How a kasi man used denim to create his empire

- Tshepo ‘The Jean Maker’ Mohlala’s success didn’t come easy, but he perservered despite his challenges

- At just 26-years-old, Tshepo has turned his passion of making jeans into a local empire

- His determination to represent SA and black entrepreneurs has seen him go from strength to strength

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Would you pay R950 for a pair of locally made jeans? It seems South Africans on social media are divided.

Tshepo Mohlala, also knows as Tshepo The Jean Maker, caused an online frenzy when he posted about a pair of jeans form his collection selling for R950.

While he received some backlash on social media for using his name as the brand name, and selling it at R950 a shot, many people were quick to defend the 26-year-old designer.

A wise businessman, Tshepo said he understands were people are coming from, adding that he know a lot of people cannot afford his jeans:

“But I studied the market and I had to position myself accordingly.”

Tshepo is all about local is lekker. He sources fabric locally and has created jobs: “I have people to pay salaries to and I have to pay rent. All of this has to be considered.”

According to a report by The Sowetan, Tshepo didn’t have an easy upbringing.

Briefly.co.za learned he was raised by his domestic worker mom and his gogo. Apparently, his granny was super religious.

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His love for fashion started when he was eight.

He got his first silk suit at 8, but he thanked his aunt for his love of jeans, saying she used to wear jean to jean.

Tshepo also defended the use of his own name as his brand name. The designer said for him, it was important to see black branded names in the industry.

Tshepo means hope and for this businessman, it’s a constant reminder of how far he has come.

“It’s a name that means you can trust this brand and you can associate yourself with it,” Mohlala said.

His rise to success also din’t come easy.

Seven years ago, Tshepo dropped out of fashion design at UJ, because he didn’t have the money to finish.

He then worked in call centres and retail, but eventually partnered with African Swiss to make denim clothing.

In 2013, when the brand won kings od denim at SA Fashion Week, Tshepo knew it was time to focus on his own visions and leave the partnership.

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His story from rags to riches continued to inspire.

A friend loaned him R8000 to make his first few jeans and his business has been flourishing since. Within three years, Tshepo opened his own shop in Joburg and even has international clients.

We can’t wait to see what he’ll do next!

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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