Born out of a family of only girls and being the youngest, Koena Selelo had great inspiration from all women around her yet she had to find her own voice. Koena refers to herself as a queen in her own “kingdom”. She is a well oozing strength and courage; Koena has managed to rise against at all material cost and whatever failures she encountered.
A servant at heart and passionate about women, Koena Selolo is the founder of Kgosigadi, an accessories brand.
Tell us about Kgosigadi, what does it mean in general? And what does it mean to you as its founder?
Kgošigadi means a Queen in Sepedi because that’s what every woman is; a queen in their own “kingdom “. This is a brand that affirms every woman, reminding them to never leave their throne to be enslaved in another woman’s “kingdom”. I affirm this through their standard of life and preferences in how they wear their accessories.
Kgošigadi therefore aims to create accessories that befit every queen’s beauty. Kgošigadi embraces every woman’s authenticity and her reign over her dominion.To me, that means I can empower women through mere accessories and acknowledging women from all walks of life.
How did you become an accessory designer?
I became an accessory designer from my love of making earrings from any clutter I found lying around at home. I am a creative at heart, so I would collect old buttons and wires, I also had a scrapbook and would sew my clothes etc. It was all part of my hobby.Koena Selelo used buttons and copper wires to create her first sellable accessory range Click To Tweet
In 2015, I made my first sellable accessory range from buttons and old copper wires and I have never stopped since. That has generated income to grow Kgošigadi as I never got funding or any capital to start. In that same year, I entered the university business pitch hosted by the The Hookup Dinner and I was a winner for Tshwane University of Technology.My first sale generated income to grow Kgošigadi, I never got funding to start - Koena Selelo Click To Tweet
I was then part of the top 3 start-ups competing with various universities in South Africa which has been a stimulus for my growth. My somewhat naive 22-year-old eyes were opened to the competitive world of business.
What is your favourite part about being an accessory designer?
My favourite part about being an accessory designer is seeing my customers happy with what I have made with love for them with my hands. That to me is fulfilling. Having them post beautiful pictures on social media of themselves wearing their Kgošigadi crowns, on its own shows that the Kgošigadi tribe is full of assertive women.
One can’t say Kgošigadi without understanding the true power and strength that comes with being called Kgošigadi.
How do you approach a new collection? Where do your ideas evolve from?
I approach any new collection first by drawing and wandering around material shops for idea inspiration.
It is also important that I keep my creative juices flowing and I do this through looking at what is trending. One has to keep bettering their craft and evolving as they grow.Koena Selelo: One has to keep bettering their craft and evolving as they grow Click To Tweet
Do you have a favorite accessory designer that you admire?
My favourite accessory designer is Ntozihle, whose work ethic I admire so much more than anything! I also admire the likes of Maria Mccloy and Koketso Mohlala —Ditsaladesigns.
I draw a lot of inspiration from different accessory designers, even the informal ones whom I admire for reasons such as their resilience etc.
How do you define luxury?
Luxury is something expensive and extravagant one can live without but can afford live with it.
Would you say you’re a realist or fantasist?
I am a realist and fantasist because in my world the two can co-exist if a balance is maintained.
One can’t live on reality alone, one also needs to believe in the unseen. That is what faith and dreams are for. Just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it won’t happen!I believe dreams are wings that one can
I believe dreams are wings that one can fly, with them one can reach the unthinkable and unimaginable.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt in life
My most valuable lesson is from a Bible scripture in Joshua 1:8 that says; “Be bold and courageous”. This scripture has been the anchor that has kept me from being washed by the waves. It helped me maintain my authenticity in this business and has made has bold as a lion.
When my parents still had not yet bought the whole idea of Kgošigadi out of loving concern and security, I had to be courageous —even though my courage might sometimes be interpreted as rebellion!
What would you choose; lipstick or lip gloss?
I’m a lipstick lady.
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