Hello, I am Naledi the Founder & Designer of Kala Origins. I’m originally from Botswana a country in the southern region of the African continent, known for high quality diamonds (not blood diamonds) and our vast untouched Savannah, which is home to the big five (lion, cheetah, elephant, buffalo, and the rare rhino) which offers the best safari experiences and most beautiful sunsets.
1- What is Kala Origins by Naledi all about?
Kala Origins was born out of a need to showcase the talent & beauty that is and always has been Africa. Kala /ka-la/ is a Setswana word for branch. So as a creative, this is one of the avenues through which I express my creativity. I design chic reversible handmade handbags for the modern day woman. What makes my bags unique is the Eco-friendly leather materials used and the placement of buttons and beads. I also use authentic African prints sourced from Botswana to design and manufacture the handbags which I ship worldwide .
2. What made you start a business in designing and manufacturing handbags?
Admittedly and I confess, I have always been a bag and shoe lover/collector. Here is the thing though, initially it never crossed my mind that I personally could make the bags. My very first sewing machine was gifted to me by my late paternal-grandmother. I was in high school when I got it and I played around with it making myself simple dresses and tops, the last time I used it was in 1997 (dating myself ). Now many moons later I am a spouse to a U.S. Diplomat and in 2018 we were moved from the USA to Jamaica and a few months before our departure I had a nagging need to purchase a sewing machine as my old one was in Botswana. So, I bought one without a plan of what to do with it. Then I decided to make some farewell gifts! The idea was phone pouches or pencil cases and accidentally they came out a little bigger than expected A little disappointed but because they were still cute I went ahead and gifted them as planned. I did not expect the ‘ooh ahs’ I received nor what followed which is the birth of Kala Origins.
3- What are some of the things you have learned while building your business?
As a creative designing, sewing to produce a finished product is the easy part. In the process of turning my designs into a company I quickly learnt there is more that goes into selling the product. It includes marketing to secure a clientele – you want to keep people engaged and excited about your product via social media platforms. Now that’s the greatest challenge!
4- Tell me about a challenge you have faced and how you have overcome it.
Linked to my learnings mentioned above, I had to dive deep and learn from those who have been successful in creating authentic and unique products and also reaching clients and expanding their brands to see how I can recreate it for myself.
5- What advice do you have for aspiring Africans
Go for it! Most of creative entrepreneurs, myself included are crippled by fear of failure and thus never start. I am still learning to let go of that fear and so far I have had warm encouraging responses that keep me going.
6- What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working?
Working as a Financial Analyst doesn’t leave much time to play but when I do its Family Time! We have a 5-year-old boy who keeps us busy. So we love traveling, learning about new cultures, exploring new restaurants or sometimes cooking a new dish. We also listen to a lot of music at home, especially Afro-beats.
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