What started out as a simple hobby for self-taught designer Tamsil Marufu has turned out to be a profitable business and a fulfilling career. The 25-year old Selibe-Phikwe native has succeeded at what only most people can dream of – turning a hobby into a successful money making venture.
Marufu’s interest in fashion design started in 2016 whilst pursuing her Chinese Studies degree at the University of Botswana. Through the assistance of YouTube tutorial videos, she taught herself the art of fashion design. “Growing up I really did not have an interest in fashion design as such,” the young woman said. “It was something that I just came across and fell in love with.”
She has since developed a keen interest and passion for fashion and has gone on to turn the hobby into a lucrative career and business. “I used to make clothes just for myself and a lot of people, especially friends and family, would become curious as to where I got my outfit. That is when I made a decision to do it as a business and Tamsil Designs was officially born in 2017.” By the time she completed her degree, Marufu had lost all interest in her Chinese Studies qualification as was set on fashion design as exactly what she wanted to do with her life.
The Tamsil brand has over the past four years grown in leaps and bounds, turning into a fully-fledged business that has since created employment for two young people. Marufu credits the power of social media for creating the buzz and hype that she really needs to grow her business. Her target market is the fiercely bold young lady who is comfortable in her body, fully embraces her femininity and is not afraid of being sexy. She uses social media, especially Facebook, for most of her advertising. One of her designs, “The Tamsil Mini–Skirt,” recently went viral.
“The trending skirt has brought a lot of sales and recognition from the public,” Marufu told Executive Lifestyle. “I have had orders from people I did not even at any point in my career think would support my business. “ Asked about how she has managed to position her brand in Botswana’s highly competitive fashion industry, Marufu explained that in order to stay relevant, she keeps abreast of trends and tries to be unique in every way possible in order for her designs to stand out.
Although her transition to fashion design and self-employment has been for the most part a success, she has encountered challenges as any other small start-up. “Turning a hobby into a profitable business is not as easy as it may seem,” she noted. “It has its own challenges, especially at the beginning. But if you have a passion for it, that alone will keep you going.”
Tasmil Designs has survived the odds. Little wonder that even during the pandemic, the savvy businesswoman has kept her business afloat. “We generated most of our revenue from designing for people attending events but since they were cancelled because of COVID-19, we have noticed a decline in our sales,” she said. Marufu again explained how she takes full advantage of social media to push her sales, making sure that she posts something trendy and different every week. “It is actually working for me and the sales leads from Facebook have been able to cushion my business from the negative effects of COVID–19’’
In this era where multi–dimensionality is encouraged and celebrated, Marufu is not only a self-taught designer and Chinese Studies degree holder but also has an interest in fine arts. Her vision for the Tamsil Fashions brand is to gain more recognition so that it may grow and employ more people. She advises patience, hard work, consistency and research for anyone thinking about changing careers and/or turning their hobbies into businesses.