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Beads, bags and more turn teacher into entrepreneur

Written by Hlengiwe Ngobese

Botha’s Hill teacher Lolo Mathe embodies the principle that hard work pays off.

The 54-year-old has turned what many would view as a hobby into a business. She started Lolo’s Creations in 2012, specialising in hand-made bags, linen, beadwork and Zulu-print cushions.

These are sold to community members and tourism accommodation businesses.

“Initially, I just wanted something to keep me busy after school. I got the idea of making cushions from my mom. She taught me crocheting, knitting and sewing. I started working in the evenings, weekends and holidays and started selling to friends and relatives,” she said.

However, her small home business is starting to turn heads. She recently exhibited her products at the KwaZulu-Natal Export Week held at the International Convention Centre in Durban. The expo recognises, promotes and assists with growing export opportunities in the province.

At the moment, Mathe is preparing an order of 102 cushions for a client in uMzimkhulu. When her workload is heavy, Mathe’s two daughters also get stuck in.

The energetic woman started training other women in handcrafts to give them the chance to gain some financial independence but a lack of funding drove the project to its knees.

 “Now that I have managed to accumulate some funding, the classes will be starting soon. It is my wish to pass on the skills I have learnt to the next generation because some youngsters don’t even know how to sew a button onto a shirt.”

 Mathe’s future plan is to take her business to the next level, by supplying stores like Mr Price Home. She would also like to take her products to overseas trade exhibitions and hopes to gain the know-how needed to achieve this from Trade & Investment KZN’s emerging exporters programme.