Lessons we can learn about building a social brand from Seatbelts&Openspaces

thuto sekate seatbelts&openspaces being lizzie
It is important to incorporate a social issue that can be part and parcel of the story behind your brand Click To Tweet

Social branding is important in trying to build enterprises that are btoh sustainable and socially responsible. We can learn a few lessons from Seatbelts&Openspaces CEO, Thuto Sekate.

Seatbelts&Openspaces is an ethically social brand which produces sustainable merchandise including up-cycled arts and crafts, clothing, and décor made from organic material, old clothes, trash and scrap material.

1. What influences your brand?

For Thuto, a #MotherlandMogul making vintage clothing with environmentally friendly products, her influence is from her past.

“Seatbelts&Openspaces is a result of an ethical father and mother. My dad once worked for an NGO that dealt with social issues, then moved on to work for a can recycling company. Later, my mother started a glass and paper recycling company while I was still a minor. So caring for the environment was naturally drummed into me.”

In university, she had the experience to cover a topic of sustainable fashion. This exposed Thuto to her calling to address her social issue of choice through eco fashion.

When building a social brand, it is important to incorporate a social issue that can be part and parcel of the story behind your brand.

Source: Seatbelts&Openspaces Facebook
Source: Seatbelts&Openspaces Facebook

2. Clearly define your brand

Through her platform, Thuto directly addresses environmental issues, making clothing from waste or recyclable material. She also upcycles, with ethical practices such as using natural dyes like coffee and tea in her production.

Thuto’s focus is incorporated in every fabric and material she makes which is clearly visible in whatever she sells. Through her style of fashion, Thuto reduces the carbon footprint by handcrafting her work.

There is a conscious effort in her work to ensure that her brand clearly associates itself as environmentally conscious and friendly.

Thuto Sekate directly addresses environmental issues through Seatbelts&Openspaces Click To Tweet

3. Learning from others

“I am definitely following other social brands, both fashion for their trends and just eco brands for the information of staying eco conscious.”

Thuto learns a lot from more developed socially responsible brands that help her find better ways to structure her business. This way, she can improve her process and technique as well as raising her integrity associated with being a “woke” brand.

Source: Seatbelts&Openspaces Facebook
Source: Seatbelts&Openspaces Facebook

4. There will be challenges still, SLAy

In countries like Botswana, building a eco friendly brand is not common or well known as part of the business process. So not everyone will understand immediately your work.

“Awareness of the cause is still building up in Botswana, so very few people understand the deeper meaning of the brand. The educational part of the need for such a brand needs to be built before we can successfully make a significant social impact.

I guess that’s why Seatbelts&Openspaces is a need. Our attempts are to close that gap of understanding and rocking the brand while creating employment opportunities for the youth. Mostly the balancing of profit and good will.”

Beyond looking to make a profit, your brand has to look at long-term sustainable solutions to ensure it meets its targets and impacts its community positively.

Building a social brand requires realizing that you improving your space in one way or another Click To Tweet

5. Be a game changer

Building a social brand requires realizing that you are different and improving your space in one way or another. Your platform can influence others on how they perceive social challenges around them, especially now in Africa.

“The possibilities are endless for us, we are the actual future. With the amount of “woke” young people in my circle alone, my faith in humanity is restored daily. Photographers, weavers, bloggers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, online store owners are each tackling different social issues.

From documenting poverty in photos, offering artisanal skills to the less fortunate, selling art made by locals all over the world at fair prices, giving locals an opportunity to grow beyond borders or awarding free medical services, with the help of crowdfunding. We do need to make profit, but it should not be at the expense of others.”

Seatbealts&Openspaces does not shy always from realizing the task of changing the narrative on consciousness in business in the Motherland. Neither should you.

About Lesego Otlhabanye

Lesego Barona Otlhabanye is in Product Development at the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency, a development bank giving funding to SMMEs start ups and expansions. She is a Global Shaper, an initiative by the World Economic Forum, blogger, author and a writer.

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