A Limpopo woman who lived according to her late grandmother’s advice and vision finally made a breakthrough and now owns a successful handbag company. Giving up her job as a financial advisor at one of South Africa’s biggest insurance companies to follow a fashion dream wasn’t an easy one for Hendrietta Mmape Sekgala, but she knew had to push herself.
Hendrietta (40), co-founder of Didintle Collections & Handbag Designs, walked out on her job in finance to pursue a dream based on advice from her late grandmother. She taught Hendrietta that as a woman you need to create your own best qualification — even after a tertiary degree, a woman still needs to find her talent and pursue it.
Her collection’s name is “Didintle”, a Sesotho word meaning “They are beautiful” in English.
“It was my late grandmother’s undying spirit of business that made me want to create my own brand — a fashion line. I started by designing clothes but along the line, I realised a dress and shoe is not complete for a lady without a stylish handbag. In 2017 I introduced my own handbag designs,” she said.
Hendrietta employed two people to assist in the business.
She was born and bred in the rural Tsemanyane in Sekhukhune District of Limpopo, to a family of entrepreneurs.
“My grandmother remained my source of inspiration even after her death. She was my role model and a good example of how a woman can live a successful business life,” she said.
“My grandmother used to say to us at home: ‘God gave you hands to work and a mind to think. Create something for yourself and do not rely on other people to employ you.'”
“It took me 15 years to accept that my calling was in business and that it is the journey I must travel, without an employer,” she said.
Hendrietta said she looked back, studied how she successfully managed clients for her previous employer, her efforts and commitment, and then realised she can still do the same to grow her own business and build her own family legacy.
“I didn’t want to continuously betray my life goals and granny’s advice by going on and on working for other people. I then resigned.”
Hendrietta said she registered for business and designing courses in order to develop her skills.
“I invested more in this, just to make sure I could master the business and create a better working environment for those who are looking for employment,” she said.
Hendrietta said the only challenge was to run her business during the heavy stages of the country’s lockdown. It was not easy.
“I had to go back to my drawing board, strategised and found new ways to fast-sell my business,” she said.
She started taking orders online and making plans to privately send out the products to her clients.
Hendrietta plans to teach more young and unemployed people how to make extra cash, start their own businesses and create their own employment.