Botswana’s… African Lace.

I have been AWOL. So much has happened but from today on-wards i have realized that the snake wins only if refuse to suck the venom out. So here I am, sucking out the venom, thinking about that girl who lived centuries ago but died with so much to share but will never have the chance to. So I won’t wash the 2013 stains. What I’ll do is, I’ll pass on that shirt to someone who will appreciate those stains and see them as art. I had an amazing but overwhelming 2013. The very best happened and the worst happened too. God took care of it all. An invite to Mercedes-Benz Berlin fashion week , sky-dived the Cape-Town skies with one of the world champion title holders, front row ticket to one of the world’s classiest fashion weeks, an invite to Africa’s biggest fashion Week, met supermodel Alek Wek, Dr Precious Moloi- Motsepe and so many other inspiring fashion multipliers, bloggers and designers. Traveled. Overwhelmed by God’s love. My family’s. I had so much to think about, so much to do. Made friends, lost some. Cried. Got my heart-broken. Lost the pieces. Re-arranged them back again. Found my smile. Lost it. Found it again through my niece. The cutest niece ever. Yes, North cute. Precious. Precious Dikobe. All in all, 2013, was an amazing year because GOD..

Compliments of the new season, Khoi “real people”.

The stars are coming out. New stars. I have talked to God about it.He said I should wake up and serve. Know that I am back for good. Stronger. Wiser. It’s everything I’ve dreamt of and excited about. 2014. “More sheen”. New year, new ways of thinking-new fashion energies. For me, it’s all about “more sheen”. More sheen on Botswana, its habitants, culture, arts, music, life and most importantly my path, the sciences of appearances, fashion. It’s an exciting time to brand a new Botswana where now the focus is in favor of raiment local Botswana talent.Botswana’s fashion climate needs additional confidence hence I am more than proud to continue providing my community, my country with this platform that encourages a more proactive role in the creative/arts industry.

To cut the long story short, I know that people always walk past coins, even lucky ones because they are consumed into something that is “bigger”. What I am trying to say is, take a closer look, that coin you just walked past- is not part of the pavement. It has its own shine and shimmer.Like you’d praise and wear international brands and designer labels, take a closer look at your home ground, your own sequins and sheen. You have some.

Anyways, Today is a good day to introduce to you to more Botswana sheen. Someone who always agrees with her entire creativity and heart. Neo Motseosi-Ooke. Neo Motseosi-Ooke is a savvy serial-entrepreneur and formidable advocate of creativity and accessories designer based in Botswana. Her designs reach out to you with a unique Lifestyle, full of richness in culture and diversity. They pride themselves in being one of Africa’s crafters of unique handmade accessories in tribal print cloth, Jewelry, shoes, neck-pieces, bags, clutches and cell phone pouches. Her designs are timeless, cultured and rooted. Like her designs, beaming with energy,I sat down with her after hours of styling a set for her designs with my partner Gaone Mothibi (GaTsh Fros) for AfroELLE magazine.

She is simply kissed by the sun twice. Fire made flesh. After what was said, here is her vision.

African Lace. Why the name African Lace, what inspired the name?

I founded African Lace in 2012 as a hobby to take my mind of my full-time job. It’s a brand name I used for handmade products that includes Handbags, purses, necklaces, bangles, earrings, home décor items such as cushion covers, ottoman covers, ,pouches etc. All products are made from colourful printed fabrics. Currently I am focused on ‘African print cloths’ commonly known as ‘Ankara’ and ‘kitenge’.
The name African lace is inspired by the initial designs. I started out making necklaces in African print cloths and they became an instant hit. African represents the origin of the raw material and the end product and ‘Lace’ represents the product’s beauty.

African Lace Botswana

How does your work set you apart?

My designs set me apart from other products in the industry in that I incorporate a lot of colour in my pieces which has become the signature look for all the pieces. The other thing I really work on is making the designs very current and trendy and with outstanding craftsmanship although everything is handmade. That is how the brand has been able to be sustainable because the market is always looking for something new. Working with a small market like Botswana, there is need to always bring a new thing because you are dealing with the same customers.

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They say inspiration is all around, What qualities do you see in your favorite designer that you want to emulate?

My favourite designer is Aisha Oboubi of the Christie Brown brand. Although the brand is in a country where a lot of people are doing the same thing it has managed to become distinct and international. The pieces created by this designer are ever so amazing and shows a lot of creativity. And the other thing I like about Christie Brown is that the brand is a trendsetter

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Nowadays Social media seems like the root of business start-up. How important is social media to your brand?

I draw inspiration for my designs from the internet, social media such as Facebook and Pinterest and Tumblr. Magazines TV and clothing shops also provide the same. Much consideration is given to current fashion trends when making the products. Social media is the fastest way to get a product across. The age group that use social networks constitutes over 50% of my market. Therefore id say social media is very important to African lace to market the products and to draw inspiration for new designs.

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What have been the biggest changes in fashion over the past quarter century, and what do you think the future holds?

My vision is to make the brand international because already in Botswana it is quickly becoming a household name .In the near future I’m looking partnerships with boutiques overseas to supply them in bulk to resell. The main reason is to get the label across to a bigger market and alongside big brands. I believe that big brands will boost my brand.The other plan is to launch a webpage and establish an online store.

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Talking about Botswana becoming a household name, How do you think you’ve been able to contribute your own quota to the Botswana fashion industry?

My main contribution to the fashion industry in Botswana has greatly been to bring something new to the accessories industry. Previously the pieces that I design were somewhat exotic and out of reach for most fashion lovers. Now they are available to anybody.

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Over the past quarter century Botswana has found recognition in the entire continent with reputable designers like Mpho Kuaho and Koketso Chiepe. Since then more and more designers have emerged each year bringing a lot of diversity and creativity and I would therefore say we as Botswana designers are “getting there’’

What have been the biggest challenges in fashion over the past quarter century? Opportunities?

The biggest challenge is the lack of market. Consumption is for a specific gender. (Mostly women), which means already you are working with a small market. The other challenge, it is not easy to find stockists locally to carry the brand since most shops are from South Africa. Challenge number three, is finding a suitable production method while at the same time protecting the brands integrity i.e. avoiding ‘’copycats’’.As for Opportunities, unlike other commodities accessories are easier to transport i.e. ship out therefore it is ideal to sell online.

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Last words to aspiring African accessory designers out there?

To aspiring designers, research is essential. The internet has so much information about any and everything. You have to know the industry, be observant and creative. Sometimes you don’t have to think far because after all, ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ – (Coco Chanel). Thank you.

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Are you wondering what she might be up to, what to expect for 2014? Here is a little cue below.

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Sneak peek into MY AFRICAN LACE EXPERIENCE.

My now available EXCLUSIVE pieces from AFRICAN LACE. Though there are 1000 other, fashion forward, different and quirky African chic pieces, these are pieces I think every fashion forward or Afrocentric person should own from African Lace.I Love them so much that I scream like a little girl every time she gives me exclusives pieces to don to these fashion weeks. They are personally my favorite pieces in my wardrobe. Whether you want to dress for a special occasion, an event or a casual day, there is a piece for every occasion with African Lace. We are proud of your creativity and consistence Neo.
Le ka moso.
Thank you for these amazing pieces.
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Here I am wearing African Lace bag for Elle magazine SA feature and TRUE LOVE MAGAZINE SA feature 2013.
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Wearing the big statement piece neckpiece from African Lace for ELLE magazine feature 2013.Eye on the Khoi-fro
the Khoi-fro African Lace
In Germany, Berlin Mercedes-Benz African fashion week 2013, bag by African Lace.
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At the Africa Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2013, South-Africa -Pretoria.
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Check out my exclusive Contribution for Botswana fashion for AFROELLE magazine issue January 2014, interviewing Botswana’s African Lace.
AfroELLE Magazine

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photo

CREDITS
Photographer: Kago Seatile Kagography (only model shots)
Fashion Stylist: Gaone Mothibi & Tsholo Dikobe,The Khoi-fro (GaTsh Fros)
Make-up artist: Lolo Monareng M.A.C Botswana
Models: JuiceTsile & Naledi Mabena
Designer: Neo Motseoisi-Ooke African Lace
Location: Accuracy Hair Salon

Contact her at
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FACEBOOK| AFRICAN LACE
INSTAGRAM| africanlace_by_neoooke
TWITTER | Afrikalace

till next time because I got more sheen.

Kissed by the sun twice.

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