RuralAfrican Shop’s Tebogo Regasegile on Her Designs & Giving Back to the Community
If you spent a lot of time looking up fun and creative sewing and DIY tutorials during lockdown, chances are you will have come across the RuralAfrican Shop on YouTube. Founded and hosted by Tebogo Regasegile, her channel offers all kinds of quality DIY projects that guarantee an inspiring revamp of old clothes, sneakers, bikini tops and much more. “Growing up, my grandmother and my aunt used to do anything from crocheting school jerseys to sewing uniforms. Me, I never really cared and never even paid attention to their sewing. All I was interested in was becoming an artist through drawing and painting. I didn't really see myself sewing and running a fashion house – I guess you can never say never, huh? I think growing up with independent women like my aunt and grandmother who owned their art and made an honest living out of it, is what shapes the RuralAfrican Shop to this day,” Tebogo told Fashionomics Africa.
Teboga feels blessed to have been born and raised in Botswana. “It was a privilege to grow up in such a peaceful and beautiful country. I am from a family of six – four boys and two girls, of which I am the third born. I was raised by three women who made me the woman I am today: my aunt, my mom and my grandmother,” she tells us, the love and respect she feels for these women clear in her words and her eyes. It was a job offer that eventually brought her to the United States and, though she admits to having initially experienced a massive cultural shock, she also relished in the excitement of this big move. Tebogo thrives as much on her creativity as she does on an incredibly positive and humorous outlook on life, hence, she wasn’t at all shaken by the fact that her job did not end up becoming a permanent position. “Well, the contract for the job that brought me to the US ended after a year, and I decided to stay. I didn't have the proper documentation and a girl’s gotta eat, so it was either becoming a stripper - I mean, I have the body for it, but my conscience wouldn't let me be great – or finding another alternative,” she tells us laughing.
“I started making accessories and clothes for myself. Whenever I got invited to celebrations, people would ask me where I got all these nice clothes. Suddenly I started getting orders and RuralAfrican Shop was born. I believe my skill is just a talent from God, since I was really never interested in sewing from a young age,” she explains. Tebogo’s aunt and grandmother instilled fearless independence in her and always encouraged her to follow her dreams. “Sometimes I sit by myself and wonder how I would have turned out if I hadn’t been raised to be independent and strong. Where would I be now? Would I have accepted that job offer and travelled to another continent by myself with no family? I don't think so. So, I owe this to them. Sadly, I lost my mom and my grandmother in 2017.
“The process of designing is really tricky for me because I can’t sew or design when I am not happy. I have to be in a really good mood, very happy or else I am not able to design. That’s the reason why I closed the RuralAfrican Shop for two years after losing my mom. I love designing anything that is quick to make and appealing to clients. I call those designs quick cash because I know once I make and post them on Instagram, I am sure to make a sale - so accessories like bags, shoes, earrings, house mittens, etc., those are quick cash.”
Next to creating wonderful clothes and accessories with African print fabrics, Tebogo is also devoted to helping others, which has led her to become a sign language teacher. “I love volunteering and helping others, it really makes me happy. Working as a sign language teacher opened my eyes to a much bigger community other than mine. To this day, I still use sign language to communicate which is really amazing and exciting. And my goal is to go back to school and advance more in sign language interpretation. Being an adult literacy tutor was amazing too, education is very important and to be able to help someone learn to read is everything. So, whatever you do, just find time to volunteer and help others. You might think you are working for free, but you are also gaining skills and meeting awesome people.”
Having lost her mom to HIV/AIDS, Tebogo is determined to connect with a Botswana-based organization and donate part of the proceeds made through the RuralAfrican Shop. “This is very important to me as these organizations could prevent others from experiencing these heavy-hitting losses. I want to prove to African teens that they should take their talents as seriously as their education. In the future, I want to go back home yearly to host classes, teach teens how to use their talents and how to start their own businesses. I want to teach them that as much as they want to work for someone else it is also possible for them to work for themselves and be their own bosses,” she tells us.
Though COVID-19 has affected the RuralAfrican Shop in various ways, Tebogo was happy to see a lot of orders coming in throughout the lockdown, particularly for face masks and headwraps. “RuralAfrican Shop is an online business, so it’s easily accessible – clients just have to go to our website and purchase what they need. Once we have survived this pandemic, I plan on going back to school to further my sign language interpretation skills, growing the RuralAfrican Shop into a bigger retail store and finding a Botswanan charity organization to build a relationship with.”
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