Africa your time is now indeed and African child, your dreams are valid. This aptly depicts the story behind the birth of Ditsala Designs. It was founded by Koketso Mohlala, a native of the vibrant streets of Soshanguve, Pretoria in 2013. “I decided to be the change I wanted to see. I started Ditsala because I want to leave a legacy and promote our rich heritage. I was tired of seeing young Africans that were following European and American trends, forgetting that our heritage is so full of colour, style, and class.”
The world is certainly paying attention; Africa and Africans are telling their stories. And what’s the story behind the name? Ditsala means friends in Setswana and Koketso regards everyone that supports her hustle a friend.
Koketso studied PC Engineering and upon completion, was offered an MQA (Mining Qualifications Authority) Learnership with Atteridgeville Jewellery Projects. She went on to Umjindi Jewellery Projects for an advanced Rhino3D course where she was trained and mentored by designer, Evert Van Eangelan. In 2015, she was one of 25 South African students selected to study at Tari Design School in Italy. She recently graduated with a European Master Diploma in Goldsmith, Gemstone Setting and Design.
Ditsala Designs has three main ranges; Fashion Freak, inspired by street fashion, Africa is mine, and I AM here, for when you want to make a statement. Each piece of jewellery is uniquely designed and finely handcrafted with love and passion. Ditsala Design also offers customized pieces.
The Ditsala circle is rapidly getting bigger and includes singer Lira, US Essence magazine’s Yoli Zama, TV personality Penny Lebyane, jazz musician Wanda Baloyi, Thembi Seete and many more. Ditsala Design celebrates Africa in all her glory, from ankara to ankh inspired accessories, (belts, headpieces, and cufflinks), afro-comb and amandla fist earrings, keyholders, Fulani earrings by the Fulani tribe of West Africa, the Zulu iziqhaza earrings, Venda and Tsonga inspired bangles and neckpieces.
Fulani earrings from the Africa is mine range.
The one thing she wishes she knew before starting out in the design industry, is marketing her business well. Her advice to aspiring jewellery designers is to simply “do what you love, the money will come.” She also suggests getting business training and gaining experience before starting a business. “And most importantly, STAY HUMBLE. Pray without ceasing and drink water,” she quips.
South African designers and artists that inspire her most include designers Laduma Maxhosa, Palesa Mokubung and Thula Sindi, Thandiswa Mazwai, Bonnie Mbuli and actor Warren Masemola.
And the most iconic piece of design is…“honestly for me, any piece made with love, is original and tells a story, is iconic.” Future plans include visiting New York, growing the business and continue to tell African stories with her work.
See more @Ditsaladesigns on Instagram