Fashion design graduate Kelebogile (Kele) Serake established Ekares Twilight in 2016 after completing the textile upcycling programme sponsored by Coca-Cola South Africa at Riversands Incubation Hub. Initially she focused on producing matric jackets for different schools in Diepsloot, which led to an evolution in the business consisting of making leisure wear and other fashion items.
And at almost this time last year, her team was in full swing, sewing masks for large retail chains and taking advantage of the fact that it had become compulsory for everyone to don protective gear when interacting with others.
“Naturally, as soon as everyone had the masks they needed, things started slowing down but I’m not one to give up easily,” remarked Serake.
“When I graduated with my BTech from Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), I realised that I have a lot to offer others who would like to learn to sew. It’s long been my ambition to pass on the skills I’ve been lucky enough to learn and when I needed to pivot my business, I realised that I had the infrastructure to put the word out and teach others to sew using an industrial machine.”
Serake explained that the pandemic forced her into some serious introspection. “I became aware of the fact that material things are not nearly as important as our human relationships. It was because of my relationships with others that I’ve been able to re-orientate my business to another direction and I’m so grateful for that.”
There are five industrial sewing machines in Serake’s unit at Riversands, which she shares with Vuyo Nghona from Inami Trading. By listening to feedback, the sewing skills training has been modified to include basic sewing, starting from scratch to more specialised lessons such as learning to sew a particular garment such as a blouse. There’s also a choice between jersey and woven fabric and individuals can also request a lesson in including a zip in a garment.
There’s still a market for leisure wear, so between creating garments and delivering sewing lessons, Serake keeps herself and her employees busy. When it comes to resilience, this entrepreneur has it in abundance!