by Brigette Mashile, founder of Roka Roko
This article is to celebrate yourself as you are. Whoever you are and wherever you are, if you are alive, you are doing pretty well. It’s so tough living today, and avoiding destruction daily. We have more reasons to give up on some days; to just say aaag suka, I’m done. But there is a chemical balance God bestowed upon you that makes you keep breathing everyday and the next, and as a bonus actually excel in a few areas in life. This is my list of reasons why I am still alive and running a business in this economy.
1. I’m stubborn
I am stubborn. And totally not ashamed of this trait. My mother calls it ‘determination’. When I was young, I was made to feel that this meant something bad; well, it depends what you do with yours and when you put it to use. Once upon a time I was unnecessarily and nonsensically stubborn. I invested energy into things that were most of the time none of my business. Today, I have learned to be stubborn about things I believe in, that grow me, that are about US and for US, that I can actually achieve. You know, things like teaching at Lisof one day, I will do it. I have been rejected twice so far - not shifted, that’s where I will be soon LOL! It’s a challenge, one for the benefit of myself and many more.
2. I have no breaks
The phrase ‘bopha’ means nothing to me. Especially if I am in a heated discussion about something close to my heart. Topics like patriarchy, abuse, racism, etc. I’ve been called direct, frank, honest, rude, so harsh, etc. Again, I’m not ashamed of this trait. I have witnessed more changes in me and other people because of how brash I am. And my other morals simply do not allow for me to not be brash (honest). If I’m not being honest, then I’m lying (including that thing humans refer to omitting the truth…it’s a lie). What I needed to learn, was where to invest my honesty and how to deliver it with cream. Turns out I shouldn’t say all people are stupid for saying stupid things…I must say ‘I believe you could be misinformed’. Funny, I haven’t lost friends because of my honesty…
3. I am passionate
And can be scary about things I’m passionate about. I felt my blood pressure rise while discussing size grading with a peer last week. You’d swear she said something bad about my mother. But I linked our ‘non African sizing standards’ to low self-esteem, to depression in 1 minute. I am passionate about love, nurturing, art, fun, forests, water, children, kindness, acceptance…. ok it’s a lot. I‘m superbly passionate about my work; those who have attempted to say otherwise have suffered my wrath buwahahahhhh. I love making clothes - so, so, so much! I have had to learn to, of course, limit this passion to a point where it makes sense; you cannot run a profitable business on passion only. You need all the other functions, unfortunately…or fortunately?
4. I am free
I am not as bothered about a lot of things people care more about. I don’t have the energy or time to have the leisure to care. And this knowledge of my limited time is good for me. I seldom postpone major things I need to do. I force myself. I don’t have time to worry about combing my hair, and many people ask ‘why don’t you comb your hair?’ Well, I do, I run my hands through it with essential oils in my hands and done. I do know I must wash it and feed it, but what direction it must sit in for it to be acceptable…blah! I also go as far as keeping hairstyles that require less maintenance, I need this. This leads to the next point:
5. I am lazy
But work hard. My lecturer in fashion school (Cecilia Mungofa), used to say to me ‘Stop trying to find short cuts’. It’s not short cuts for me per se, my mind is always trying to find ways to do major jobs in a more seamless, faster but efficient manner. I am always trying to make creating a dress faster and easier, without really missing any steps. I get bored easily, so I have to make a lot of activities more fun; because during fun comes a lot of creativity and innovation. I clean a house in two hours, I cook supper in one hour, I make a dress in …no Im not saying that one LOL! Admitting you are lazy will assist you; it will make you sit and analyze where you want to invest your energy and time; and leave all the other parts to those that have energy for them.
6. I am aware
My awareness is my strongest and best quality. It is both a curse and a gift. It was heightened by a program I did a few years back and my willingness to listen. I am aware of a lot of things within myself; and anyone else standing or existing around me. Awareness assists you to also be more sensitive, soft, kind, understanding, loving, strict (with self and others), patient, and many, many more beneficial things. Being aware is like knowing that you are struggling now but the payback is coming soon, therefore concentrate on working hard. Being aware is listening to understand. Being aware is realizing your client really hates her knees and helping them love them.
No one is ever right or wrong. No one can tell you what is right or wrong about you; not even all those well researched reports. No one knows you more than you - your strengths and weaknesses. Most of the time you don’t have to do anything about your strengths; but you might have to look at your weaknesses and see how you can make them positive. Use what you have, including the crappy parts of you. They are there for the balance that is you, and you are definitely here for a reason. Find it; and do it.
Brigette Mashile is the founder and creative force behind Roka Roko, a custom fashion design business based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company passionately delivers quality tailored and trendy fashion to make their customers happy, and specializes in styling women by creating unusual combinations with fabric, culture and style. Brigette has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Witwatersrand and a Fashion Diploma from Studio5 School of Fashion. She’s a former fashion buyer for a major retailer in South Africa, and an international direct selling company. She’s been passionate about fashion since the age of 10 and gained invaluable experience in the fashion world running informal fashion creation businesses until the day her own Roka Roko brand was born. Find out more by visiting the Roka Roko website www.rokaroko.co.za
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