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These 2 Basotho Creatives Are Leading The Way In Lesotho's Design Scene

In Lesotho, where fashion is still a relatively young industry, two Basotho designers have identified a space in the creative scene.


'Maleeto Monyau & Phutheho Ranooe of House of Thethana (Photo: Lineo Segoete)

In Lesotho, where fashion is still a relatively young industry, two Basotho designers have identified a space in the creative scene. Phutheho Ranooe, 29, and ‘Maleeto Monyau, 30, are House of Thethana, a textile design duo who specialise in an innovative assortment of futuristic prints for men and women. Their mission is to proclaim market leadership in Lesotho's design scene by recreating familiar Basotho accessories into something funky and timeless. The brand, which officially launched as a business in January, takes its name from the traditional Sesotho bead-decorated skirt made of fibre known as "thethana."

The graphic designer friends met in 2004 while at university in South Africa. Though they went their separate ways after transferring out after a year, they'd soon find out that they were neighbours in a small town north of Maseru's central business district.

We recently caught up with Phutheho and 'Maleeto to get a feel for what their House of Thethana is all about.

House of Thethana (Photo: Lineo Segoete)

Lineo Segoete for Okayafrica: Can you give us some background on your products, conception and name?

House of Thethana: House of Thethana intends to offer a unique Lesotho experience through textile designs inspired by the Mountain Kingdom. The textile pattern designs will be printed onto fabric and converted into products such as cushions, stationary, aprons, curtains, furniture, clothing garments and fashion items such as bags. The idea is to give clients the opportunity to own unique products which will feature a distinct point of view, yet can be customized to suit their specific tastes.

House of Thethana is a business idea conceived in 2006. We were constantly inspired by Lesotho’s culture and dynamic landscape and thought it would be wonderful to celebrate it through design by creating lifestyle items inspired by everything about the country.

Initially we conceived the name because we wanted to highlight womanhood. Hence the name House of Thethana. But as time passed we realised that it’s not only women we want to celebrate, but all people.

What do you envision for the brand?

We want to become a global textile design brand contributing to the economic development of Lesotho. Through our business we will create employment and represent Lesotho globally.

What motivates you, particularly in an environment such as Lesotho?

We are constantly inspired by Lesotho’s culture, her people and breathtaking landscape. Our environment feeds our creativity and we want to give back to it by expressing its beauty through design.

What sets your designs apart?

House of Thethana is actually not a fashion brand, but is instead a lifestyle brand with a specific focus on home decor. Currently no one in Lesotho has explored home decor in a similar manner. However, the one aspect of fashion we have explored thus far is fashion accessories through merchandise such as bags, umbrellas and hats.

You have a background in graphic design- how does it influence your products and vice versa?

It contributes greatly to how we properly apply principles such as use of colour and space in a design. Also, most of our designs are started off digitally before they can be translated into textile, a critical step which helps us to stretch our imaginations. Our products are intended to express creativity, pay homage and push barriers all in one. Without an education in graphics this might have proven a little bit harder so it helps make our job a lot easier and natural. More-so because design and creativity are at the core of both our worlds and graphic design itself.

Where can people find your products?

So far for locals, they can be found at the Basutholand Ink kiosk at Pioneer Mall. Otherwise, people can contact us directly or via our Facebook page to place an order.

Lineo Segoete is the co-director of Ba re e ne re literary arts in Lesotho and a freelance writer and wanderer governed by creativity. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Keep up with House of Thethana on Twitter and Facebook

'Maleeto Monyau & Phutheho Ranooe of House of Thethana (Photo: Lineo Segoete)

'Maleeto Monyau of House of Thethana (Photo: Lineo Segoete)

House of Thethana (Photo: Lineo Segoete)

House of Thethana (Photo: Lineo Segoete)

Phutheho Ranooe of House of Thethana (Photo: Lineo Segoete)

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Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

Freddie Harrel Is Building Conscious Beauty For and With the African Diaspora

Formerly known as "Big Hair Don't Care", creator Freddie Harrel and her team have released 3 new wig shapes called the "RadShapes" available now.


Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


The normalising of Black and brown women in wigs of various styles has certainly been welcomed by the community, as it has opened up so many creative avenues for Black women to take on leadership roles and make room for themselves in the industry.

Radswan (formerly known as Big Hair Don't Care), is a lifestyle brand "bringing a new perspective on Blackness through hair, by disrupting the synthetic market with innovative and sustainable products." Through their rebrand, Radswan aims to, "upscale the direct-to-consumer experience holistically, by having connected conversations around culture and identity, in order to remove the roots of stigma."

The latest from French-Cameroonian founder and creator Freddie Harrel - who was featured on our list of 100 women of 2020 - has built her career in digital marketing and reputation as an outspoken advocate for women's empowerment. On top of her business ventures, the 2018 'Cosmopolitan Influencer of the Year' uses her platform to advocate for women's empowerment with 'SHE Unleashed,' a workshop series where women of all ages come together to discuss the issues that impact the female experience, including the feeling of otherness, identity politics, unconscious bias, racism and sexism.

And hair is clearly one of her many passions, as Freddie says, "Hair embodies my freest and earliest form of self expression, and as a shapeshifter, I'm never done. I get to forever reintroduce my various angles, tell all my stories to this world that often feels constrained and biased."

Armed with a committee of Black women, Freddie has cultivated Radswan and the aesthetic that comes with the synthetic but luxurious wigs. The wigs are designed to look like as though the hair is growing out of her own head, with matching lace that compliments your own skin colour.

By being the first brand to use recycled fibres, Radswan is truly here to change the game. The team has somehow figured out how to make their products look and feel like the real thing, while using 0% human hair and not negotiating on the price, quality or persona.

In 2019, the company secured £1.5m of investment led by BBG Ventures with Female Founders Fund and Pritzker Private Capital participating, along with angelic contributions from Hannah Bronfman, Nashilu Mouen Makoua, and Sonja Perkins.

On the importance of representation and telling Black stories through the products we create, Freddie says, "Hair to me is Sundays kneeling between your mothers or aunties legs, it's your cousin or newly made friend combing lovingly through your hair, whilst you detangle your life out loud. Our constant shapeshifting teaches us to see ourselves in each other, the hands braiding always intimately touching our head more often than not laying someone's lap."

"Big Hair No Care took off in ways we couldn't keep up with," she continues, "RadSwan is our comeback.It's a lifestyle brand, it's the hair game getting an upgrade, becoming fairer and cleaner. It's the platform that recognises and celebrates your identity as a shapeshifter, your individuality and your right to be black like you."


Check out your next hairstyle from Radswan here.

Radswan's RadShape 01Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 02Photo: Courtesy of Radswan


Radswan's RadShape 03Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

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