Ma­jor boost for ‘home-grown’ leather ac­ces­sories brand

Cape Argus - - Life - Tho­bile Maz­ibuko

FASH­ION de­signer Tiisetso Molobi will ex­hibit her lux­ury mud cloth bags and cam­era straps at this year’s San­lam Con­tem­po­rary Fair this week­end. Joburg-based Molobi is the founder of Ur­ban­mosadi, a brand she launched in 2012 which spe­cialises in leather ac­ces­sories with an African ac­cent. I chat to Molobi about her brand and what the ex­hi­bi­tion means to her. Tell us a lit­tle about your­self ?

I was born in Soweto 36 years ago to lov­ing par­ents. I am mother to a feisty six-year-old-girl and some­one who en­joys art and street cul­ture. I have a pas­sion for tex­tiles from our African con­ti­nent. As an artist, what in­spired you to be where you are?

In a tra­di­tional sense, I wouldn’t call my­self an artist; I am more an ob­server of cul­tures and I wish to pre­serve the beauty and his­tory of cer­tain African tex­tiles that are un­touched by the in­flu­ence of colo­nial­ism. West African tex­tiles in par­tic­u­lar, like mud cloth and kente, are in­her­ently African and carry a rich his­tory. When did Ur­ban­mosadi start and what was the mo­tive be­hind start­ing it?

Ur­ban­mosadi started off as a per­sonal blog in 2007 that later evolved into a vis­ual doc­u­men­ta­tion of my trav­els to in­ter­est­ing lo­ca­tions, brands and peo­ple within those places. In its later years, it fo­cused heav­ily on the lo­cal street cul­ture of myJoHo (Joburg). My in­ter­ests led me to study­ing pho­tog­ra­phy in Cape town, where I was in­ter­ested in cus­tomis­ing my cam­era strap. I grav­i­tated to­wards the kente fab­ric be­cause I grew up see­ing it around our home. I de­cided to make it a busi­ness when my friends started show­ing a big in­ter­est in what I was do­ing. Be­fore, I knew it, I was mak­ing more straps for friends, and the client base grew or­gan­i­cally from there. What does ex­hibit­ing at the San­lam Con­tem­po­rary Fair mean to you?

This is a big deal for the brand. I at­tended the fair for the first time last year. The minute I walked around the fair, I asked my­self, why I wasn’t here ex­hibit­ing? I guess, my silent ques­tion/ prayer was heard, as ear­lier this year I got an e-mail from the cu­ra­tor, Cas­san­dra Twala, invit­ing the brand to take part. This is our first-ever ex­hi­bi­tion and it’s a high bar to start on lo­cally. What can peo­ple ex­pect from you at the San­lam Con­tem­po­rary Fair?

I want peo­ple to in­ter­act with the ex­hi­bi­tion space that I will be putting to­gether. I want to cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence that trans­lates vis­ually with one’s past and fu­ture. I will also be launch­ing brand-new tex­tiles, clothes and home­ware prod­ucts. What makes you really stand out?

Well-crafted prod­ucts that pre­serve an African aes­thetic. Po­si­tion­ing African tex­tiles, mud cloth and kente as pure lux­ury is my big­gest goal. What ad­vice would you give to young peo­ple who don’t get much sup­port re­al­is­ing their dreams?

They have to in­vest in them­selves. Do the re­search and learn the rules be­fore break­ing them. Seek to know the his­tory that in­forms your story/dreams.

Ur­ban­mosadi will be ex­hibit­ing at the San­lam Con­tem­po­rary Fair from to­day un­til Sun­day.

AFRI-COOL: Ur­ban­mosadi back­pack.

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