For the love of waslapa
“I made more money than my monthly salary in four days,” testifies the 35 years old Lerato Ramathibela of Diepkloof. Probably these are the words that any young entrepreneur would aspire to utter. Lerato’s clothing line, RataVaslapa, has been making a mark even beyond Soweto. Bloemfontein, Welkom and Lesotho are some of his hotspots.
This might not be surprising for someone who used to dress his homeboy and a now retired soccer maestro, Teko Modise and Lebogang Mokoena. “Teko and Lebogang would just say the event they were attending, and I would style him,” Lerato reveals.
RataVaslapa offers tracksuits, socks, golf shirts, beanies, hoodies and is now venturing into formal wear. This is what is telling RataVaslapa apart from most of township branded clothing items. “We diversify and that broadens our market. Not only that, we sell quality. Many people don’t buy township because they think it is not quality.”
He buys fabric and sketches down his ideas, before handing them over to Busi of Greatlife Trading in Meadowland. Together with her team, they breathe life into those sketches.
Media personality, Masechaba Ndlovu is the brand ambassador. “Her involvement helped a lot. After a few minutes she posted wearing our items on social media, our Instagram and Facebook following and likes increased instantly. It was a courteous gesture – I did not pay her a cent,” says Lerato.
The concept, RataVaslapa was born in 2006 after Lerato’s mother passed on; it was only fluid then. It manifested in 2012. His mother encouraged him go rata waslapa (keep neat and clean). “I was a dapper. Friends and colleagues advised me to start my own clothing line.” As homage to his mother, Lerato is planning to grow the brand even bigger.