Botswana: Twins Make Mark in Leather Production

Gaborone — Moving around without a handbag is usually hard for most women.

As such, handbags are not only a fashion accessory but are equally useful safe keeping and managing other items that a woman always takes with her.

Even though in the modern society handbags are mostly associated with women, history reveals that both genders; men and women used handbags for practical purposes, to manage their baggage.

In the past, people used bags to carry weapons, tools, food and flint.

As for a women in the modern society, pressure is enormous to always look good and to impress because of competition for attention.

Therefore, having the right bag for your desired look is essential.

Similarly designers are doing their best to satisfy the customers by producing goods that will suit the demanding lifestyle of the customer.

Local designers have not been left behind and have been producing products (handbags) that stand out and compete with international brands.

The growing fashion trend is the reason youthful twins, Tlotlang Keutlwile and Tlotlo Kobe, decided to create a range of luxury handcrafted leather accessories under the brand name KOBE TWINS.

The duo are based in Thamaga, but have also established a stall at the Gaborone Bus Rank.

In an interview, 29-year- old Tlotlang Keutlwile said the leather products manufacturing business, which was funded through personal savings, started in July 2019 when he was a second year student at Molepolole College of Education.

"I made all sorts of handbags in my room at school with help of friends during weekends. I later on told my twin brother, Tlotlo, about it and the business idea impressed him immediately," said Mr Keutlwile.

Mr Keutlwile said that the vision developed and birthed the brand KOBE TWINS.

"I was inspired by some videos I watched on the internet of the world's most expensive car; the Rolls Royce, as the whole car is hand made.

"I loved how they used leather to make its interior and it inspired me to start a leather bag business. I used internet to research about making leather bags, and other leather products using hands and hand tools only," said Mr Keutlwile.

"All our bags and other products are handmade. We do not use any machines and we determined to continue using our hands to make our products," he added.

The duo did not go to school or receive any form of training on making leather bags but were driven by passion and determination.

"We enhance our skill by researching on the internet. What we do is inspired by the need for a better satchel," he said.

Mr Keutlwile said they were driven by simple practical needs and a gut feeling that it is possible to create something better than the market already is offering.

"Our idea is rooted on creating something good and practical and we intend to keep it that way," he said.

The duo's leather made products include; travel bags, laptop size bags, messenger bags, backpacks, shoulder bags, hand bags, wallets, hats, belts, dog harnesses, horse saddle, cards holder. "All this products are handmade, said Mr Keutlwile.

He sad longevity was one of the main features of their products.

"We have designed our products to fit the modern needs and usable over countless fashion seasons," he said.

Mr Keutlwile also acknowledged the power that the media through its various platforms has on the customer base.

"Social media exposes consumers to various international products hence the need for us to also use Facebook and Instagram to create awareness for our products," he said.

He added that word of mouth was also expanding their customer base.

Like any other business, KOBE TWINS is also not immune to challenges. The company imports leather.

As such, Mr Keutlwile said, COVID-19 pandemic impacted negatively on the business as it was difficult to receive the material on time.

"It is costly to import material and also time consuming as late delivery of material frustrates our customers because we fail to deliver their orders on the stipulated deadlines," he said.

The duo also decried shortage of capital to buy enough leather. Despite the challenges the duo are determined to keep moving forward.

"We are determined to take the lead in using natural means to make quality and beautiful, luxurious leather bags as well as its accessories," said Mr Keutlwile.

"With our products, we want our consumers to make lasting impressions, with a look that represents their lifestyle" he said.

Source : BOPA

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