Nelly Morotsi is a Motswana women with a fierce passion for the versatile craft of sewing. An aspiring fashion designer, she blends the skills of old with the trends of today. Her journey in textiles began in 2015 when Nelly was assisted by the Government of Botswana to attend a fashion design course in Gaborone.
She now has the skills to produce vibrant clothing along with pretty much anything imaginable from fabrics.
Nelly proudly swirls her stunning Shweshwe dress, made with nothing but a needle and thread under a small tree outside her house. It strikes me again how much untapped skill lies amongst the sprawling family compounds on the outskirts of Maun. Incredibly, one of the most popular items made from Nelly’s hands are recycled bottle-top drink coasters.
Nelly speaks about her journey: ‘In 2015 the council helped me to become a fashion designer. I went to school in Gaborone for a month and was taught to sew school shorts and trousers. Now I also make dresses, skirts and bags.
I use material that I buy in Maun or sometimes I buy it in Kenya. I like many colours but I let the customers choose the style and the colours they want. It takes me about 3 hours to make a dress and this is what I make most money from.
In 2015 the council helped me to become a fashion designer
Travel for Impact showed me an image with placemats made from fabric and bottle tops, so I started making these with scrap material. They are colourful and you can make smaller or bigger versions.
One day I also want to learn to make all men’s clothes and have somebody to market what I make.
Customers can come to me with styles and I will make them. Sometimes I learn by doing – but I always do learn from mistakes and then make beautiful things.
This is Angel, she is my helper and will one day be a fashion designer too. She always brings me bottle tops on the way back from school to make the placemats.’
This is Angel, she is my helper and will one day be a fashion designer too.