Mathapelo’s resilient journey to success

Mathapelo’s resilient journey to success

Failure is an integral part of success, the difference between those who fail and those who succeed is how you view failure, for Mathapelo Mokhele, failure made her better instead of bitter, it made her more determined instead of being despondent.

Mathapelo ‘Pinky’ Mokhele, the Founder and Director of Lineage Legacy Enterprises based in Botshabelo in the Free State, took The Business Weekly through her entrepreneurial journey which was marked with many ups and downs that were reason enough for her to throw in the towel, but even though reaching that breaking point, she still decided to push forward to realise her dream.

Mokhele, who hails from Thaba Nchu, started from humble beginnings with very little to go around with. An entrepreneur at heart, she started out with a hair salon at her home, then later, when business was not that good, she decided to go to Johannesburg to stock up on brand names jeans and t-shirts, which she sold to community members.

As she was selling the clothes, she realised a demand especially from car wash owners and small companies who wanted her to supply them with uniform or matching t-shirts that will set them apart from their competitors. They would make orders of about 10 t-shirts, but she could not find their sizes from where she was getting her stock.

Pinky then resorted to the firms in Botshabelo at the Industrial Park, where she found one of the firms producing golf shirts, she asked them to make the specific shirts for her customers, they did it, which triggered her love for manufacturing, clothing and textile.

“I started little by little, I did not even get formal training for sewing, out of the interest I saw when they were making the t-shirts; from the money I was making from the jeans I was selling, I bought myself a sewing machine,” said Mathapelo Mokhele.

After buying the machine, Pinky bought a tie and a cloth, which she dismantled the tie and practiced how to sew a tie, but that gave her problems as she got it wrong for more than two weeks before getting it right. She then sewed one tie as a sample and approached a school and proposed to the principal to supply the matriculates with ties, the school principal agreed.

This was her first big deal as she had 100 ties to supply. When the bunch was done, the ties were skew, it was a disaster and the pile of ties was rejected. She was disappointed at herself, but because of the love of what she was doing, she decided to give it another try. She got the ties right and supplied RT Mokgopa in Thaba Nchu and went to the next school.

Her confidence in sewing was now growing, she introduced t-shirts, even though they were not perfect at first, one could were them. The more she worked on her craft, the more she improved.

Mathapelo grew from schools and started supplying unions with shirts; she started supplying them at branch level, then at regional, then at provincial and now at national level.

Mathapelo Mokhele moved from working at home as the business was growing to small business. While at it; she received her biggest order of 210 000 shirts from National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at national level.

“I was so shocked, it was so big and I was like yoh! Just to count 1 000 shirts is a lot, now 210 000 shirts, how am I going to get there? Because I love what I do, I made it; it is all because of love, that’s it,” remarked the joyful Pinky.

Pinky had to move to a bigger place in order to meet the demand and buy more machines, she moved to Botshabelo industrial Park where she is currently renting a large factory and she is currently employing 300 people.

“It is always important to bring happiness or change in people’s lives, our people are struggling. When you see that you can at least give people something every month end to at least buy electricity or put food on the table and see their happiness, it keeps me happy. It is not about me; honestly it is not about me, that is why when I speak I say ‘we’ because it is not about me.

All I want to see is, people’s lives being changed because I know where I come from, where I started from, so I know the pain of being in want, lack of food in the house, of not being able to do what you want. I got an opportunity so why not give others an opportunity,” said the big hearted entrepreneur.

Pinky says it has been tough getting where she is now, she has received a lot of criticism from her clients as well, at some point she broke down and cried, but she had to toughen up and press forward. She would fix whatever she was criticised on and improve on it. The criticism did not make her bitter. Because she love what she is doing, she found new strength every time.

“Love conquers all, that’s it,”                                                                                                

Mokhele now supplies a number of unions at all levels, these include COSATU, NUM, POPCRU, NEHAU and others. The resilient and determined Mokhele says she wants to see her company having a presence in all provinces in the country, creating more jobs for people and make a significant contribution to the South Africa’s economy.

“Let us not give up, its hard we know; life is confusing and we meet a lot of things that frustrate us but let us learn to be firm, let us focus, what is going to help us a lot is focus because as a people we tend to look at a lot of things, it is this and that, you won’t be able to do everything, focus on one thing, fall in love with it and continue with it,” advised Mathapelo Pinky Mokhele.


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