Phatiswa Botya

32, Khayelitsha, I was attending school and did consumer studies. My focus area was design. My mother used to sew, and that’s what inspired me. I wanted to be a designer.

After my matriculation, I wanted to study design at UCT, but my marks were not good enough. I stayed at home and went to False Bay College in 2011. I started to study IT. This is my big regret! In the third year, I gave that up because I realised this was not for me. My passion was still fashion.

I got a job at Edgars at the beauty counter. My mom was still sewing, and I would sew every now and then, but not seriously. But then I fell pregnant, and life happened. I stayed at home for a while after I got my baby. Later I worked as a youth facilitator. We worked with lots of young girls to empower and support them. I loved it, but Covid hit, and my contract ended – they could not keep me on! I was without a job, without an income.

That’s when I realised that I needed to take off my baby. I am the solve provider. She has haemophilia. She has unique needs and must drink special milk and eat healthy fruits and vegetables. The pressure was on me to make money for myself since I am the only provider.

I started sewing seriously; advertising my skills and promoting myself on Facebook and WhatsApp. I start to get more and more customers! People are placing orders.

I heard about TradeUp on Facebook and visited TCB. There were more than 50 people who applied that day (and only space for 20), but I prayed that I get chosen. I wanted to join. I prayed – please may I be the one! I want to be a fashion designer.

I have grown so much. I used to sell my clothing and use the money. But then I don’t have money for stock, fabric, and electricity to create new orders! Here I learned about saving and money management.

It changed my life.

I know how to approach a customer, how to sell, and how to promote my business.

I have learned new patterns and can make new patterns myself.

Money and budget management? I can do that now!

They even teach us time management, which has helped me so much.

I also understand fabrics better now.

At the same time I am learning from the other women. If I don’t know how to make something or put in a button or add a zip, I ask the other ladies. We help each other. It’s amazing.

Now I’m in the process of registering my business. I want to do proper photo shoots with my clothing. I want a label. My focus now is to have a workshop where I would like to teach young girls sewing skills. It will give them financial freedom and pride.

My advice to others?

  1. Don’t let peer pressure put you off. People will tell you that your dream cannot work and make you doubt yourself. But don’t listen. Follow your passion. I regret the time I wasted doing IT. Don’t waste your time – do your dream and your passion. Then you will succeed.
  2. Your garment is your signature. Make the best quality possible