“This shop came from the demand,” Monwabisi said. “There is no shop like this in Makhanda.”
Originally from Port Elizabeth, the Mcopelas relocated to Makhanda because of the National Arts Festival that the town hosts annually for 11 days from late June to early July. The festival attracts some 50,000 guests to a town of 70,000. The couple opened the shop in May 2017, selling clothing out of cars before getting the building. Motha Closet sells suits, clothing, ladies shoes and African prints.
“We are bringing Port Elizabeth onto their doorsteps now. It’s a victory for them,” Monwabisi said.
“We get all sorts of people, hence we chose this area,” Thakara said.
Customers have the option to design their own patterns for traditional African clothing that the shop sells. Thakara said the prints are “where you show your heritage.” Prices depend on the pattern and print.
Traditional African clothing and prints are still worn for special occasions, such as festivals and ceremonies.
“Those African prints are multicolored,” Monwabisi said. “Every color speaks. If you’re going to a wedding those colors speak to the theme of the wedding.”
Ladies “want different things, try to mix and match different colors so they feel confident in that,” Thakara said.