Tina Molefe is a local fashion designer who has been breaking ground in the fashion industry for over a decade by combing textile and cultural customs to produce tailor made attires suitable for every occasion. Inspired by different cultures especially Bapedi, Xitsonga and Batswana customs, Tina Molefe Couture produces high quality apparels for many African traditional events.

This stunning outfit was done by Tina Molefe Couture for Gomolemo Moeketsane in Marapyane.
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Born and bred in the village of Marapyane, Mpumalanga province, Tina Molefe was always fascinated by needle work from an early age, her love for tailoring began when she was still a learner as far back in the 1990’s at Patrick Mankolane Primary School located also in the same village. Fortunately the curriculum which included needle work and clothing amongst other subjects continued when she went to Moepi high school where she matriculated in 1998, this helped her to understand her gift and ability to turn textiles into unique traditional outfits.

Post her matric studies she enrolled with the then Pretoria College now Tshwane North College (TNC) where she studied Clothing Production, this is where the love for the industry was entrenched and also helped her to understand the business side of tailor making. Tina Molefe Couture was officially registered 2011, but the business has been operating for well over a decade. She specializes in traditional attires, most of her business comes from traditional wedding events but as she says “I love specializing in colorful traditional weddings and other cultural outfits as I am able to express myself”.

September to December (spring to summer seasons) in South Africa has always been known to be a wedding season, and as the saying goes “your work ethic will determine your worth” meaning in life whatever you get is determined by the amount of work you put in. Services for Tina Molefe Couture are always in high demand this time of the year, even when we visited her, there was a “Fully Booked” sign on the window for everyone to see. For the month of October and November she is fully booked with wedding events almost every weekend, “I always try to attend to other local social gatherings such as funerals but most of the time I can be found here at home in my studio working on my next (wedding) project” said Tina. To date her company has successfully completed over 100 projects. “Tina ‘magic hands’ Molefe as me and my family call her. It has been a pleasure having my clothes done by her, I would definitely recommend anyone looking for aesthetically pleasing tailored clothes to go for her” said one of her longtime client Thembi Kola.

Tina Molefe Couture also caters for the gentlemen for all occasions.
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Asked who she looks up to in the industry she mentioned another designer called Frank Ramatsetse who is the founder of Candid by Frank Ramatsetse which is a clothing brand from Marble Hall in Limpopo Province. He sometimes goes to local radio stations where he gives advices to aspiring fashion designers and this is where Tina Molefe gets free lessons which assist her navigate her way in the world of business.

The global coronavirus pandemic put a stop to everything but the fashion industry was hit the most as everyone was locked down. Unlike other industries such as telecommunications which thrived during this period; this industry (fashion) relies heavily on close contact events such weddings, parties etc. to flourish. According to the report by the World Bank titled “South Africa Economic Update, Building back better from COVID-19”; South Africa entered the Covid-19 pandemic with low levels of employment and a decade of weak job creation. Tina Molefe Couture suffered great losses as a result of the pandemic but like many Small Micro Medium Enterprises (SMME’s) they are fortunately recovering.

The ever smiling Tina Molefe of Tina Molefe Couture is definitely a force to be reckoned with, she loves Africa and all its beautiful colors.
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This self-empowered woman has never received any government funding or assistance and she does not plan to apply for one anytime soon as she is determined to make sure that this business succeeds without any outside help. Part of the exciting long term plans for Tina Molefe Couture is to open a boutique store where people can walk in and buy clothes without disturbing the other (core) side of the business which is tailor-making.

She has various social media pages, click here to listen to the interview.

Happy clients, Thembi Kola and family smiling and posing for pictures in these stunning outfits specially made for them by “magician” herself Tina Molefe.
Image: Supplied

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