By By Atlehang Ramathesele and Yolanda Wessels
Leather accessories are a much-loved fashion trend that inspired a young female fashion designer to start a business that designs leather accessories.
Over the years, there’s been a steady increase in the number of Proudly South African products made by young creative entrepreneurs. Kgomotso Madi is one of many entrepreneurs that are using their creativity to run a successful business.
Her small leather business is making waves by designing and manufacturing trendy fashion and interior decorative accessories.
After Kgomotso completed her studies in Fashion Design she interned at several fashion houses, where she quickly realised that opportunities for fashion graduates to earn a sustainable income were limited.
“While working behind the scenes at local Fashion Weeks, I noticed most designers were struggling to find trendy accessories to complement their runway fashion garments”. She was shocked that many designers purchased fashion accessories for their runway looks from mass producing franchise retailers and they were not using locally produced items.
This inspired Kgomotso to start a premium leather lifestyle brand called Madi Lucent alongside her business partner Hansie Maserumule. Their business is based in Pretoria, Gauteng and is popular for designing and manufacturing handcrafted leather holsters and shoulder bags under their fashion accessory brand LUCID. Their locally manufactured products are made from 100% genuine leather products.
Diversifying leather product offerings
Madi Lucent not only does fashion accessories, but they also offer design and product development services for brands and businesses in the fashion and interior décor industry.
The budding business has managed to solidify its presence in the highly competitive industry.
Some of Madi Lucent’s highlights include:
- developing golf accessories for Leopard Creek Country Club in Kruger National Park.
- winning the Converse Create Next competition
- being in the top 5 of major pitching competitions
- showcasing their debut collection with Fashion Week Studio in Paris in February 2024, (something they are fervently trying to secure funding for).
Kgomotso credits her resilience for the success of the business. “I don’t give up easily, this has helped me keep pushing despite challenges. I’ve learnt to take constructive criticism with a pinch of salt and see opportunities within the problems,” she says.
While this has served her well, some of the business challenges persist, namely cashflow and the various barriers of entry for female entrepreneurs in the sector. The leather crafting sector is very male dominated, and she is often the only female and the youngest one in the room. “I have to balance being assertive and respectful to be taken seriously,” she explains.
However, she is well-poised to tackle these challenges and give back to young creatives like herself. With an emphasis on playing it forward, the business also offers basic design and crafting skills training workshops to upskill potential entrepreneurs that want to enter this highly competitive sector.
It’s exciting to see young creative entrepreneurs growing their small businesses and creating jobs by manufacturing handcrafted items made from locally sourced materials.