Meet Botswana’s youngest female fashion designers

SHARE   |   Friday, 07 June 2019   |   By Ricardo Kanono
Allison and Teresa Jonas Allison and Teresa Jonas

A t just 20-years, fashion designer twins Allison and Teresa Jonas have hit the local fashion industry big time. The duo had been – before designing sexy singer and performer, Bouncy’s Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAS) outfits – flying under the radar. Their instant shot at success was profiled by their Mentor Fashion Icon and Trend Setter Tsholofelo Dikobe of GatshFros. The fashion entrepreneur has simply called the duo ‘a force in the making!’ This is a big deal if the compliment comes from someone who has featured in numerous international magazines such as CNN African Voices, ELLE Magazine, South African edition of the New African Woman magazine, Marie Claire, AfroElle, Glamour and many others. As it turns out, they had long started their fashion careers before the age of 15. The idea of going commercial was just that, an idea and now the business of fashion is all they think about. Their introduction to the fashion scene started long before they could comprehend what fashion was. “We always found ourselves, for some reason we cannot explain to this day, tuned into the fashion channel from a very early age,” reveals Allison in a mousy voice that almost gives away her nervousness at the realisation of being interviewed. She also states that their love for fashion also meant they became easily adept with fashion trends. 

A tool they used to craft Bouncy’s two fashion forward and daring outfits for the YAMAS’ pre-party and award night. The former bore a close resemblance to stylish American singer rapper Cardi B, and their number one supporter, Dikobe made sure her legion of followers and supporters at home and the world over were privy of the young girls’ design proficiency. Now, in pursuit of their fashion design dreams, the twins are looking forward to start their studies in Fashion Design at Limkokwing University soon after the two-year gap they took from their studies, which they had to convince their parents to allow them to take. They reveal that it was not an easy feat but the support their parents gave them let to the realisation of their dream. It was during this time the Jonas sisters established the Alli and Tess Studio, a fashion blog site that gave birth to an online store where customers can make selections from already available designs or commission new ones. They, also at the time, tested the fashion industry waters before settling into any school after their Botswana General Certificate in Secondary Education (BGCSE). Their belief is that, though they might have the design concepts to even get recognised by an artist as hot as Bouncy at the moment, they need the training to advance their skills and become well rounded designers. Speaking of the studio’s latest fashion masterpiece – Bouncy’s YAMAS outfits – the twins blurb out in unison amidst chuckles. “We had no idea that someone on the other side of the globe was designing an outfit that would bear close resemblance to ours, let alone for the hottest rap artist at the moment!” Teressa, who seems the most outspoken of the two sisters, notes that their design genius came solely from their creativity and the brief they got from their client, who wanted something ‘daring, sexy, revolutionary and ground breaking’. “We looked at how she performs on stage and went with an edgy and continental look that would also get people talking,” Tessa explains, in the same breath stating that the artist loved the sketch of the outfits the minute it was presented to her. On the second outfit, the ground breakers went for a more African look incorporating feathers and tassels into a faux leather ensemble. “The look was inspired by Africa with a modern twist and retro vibe,” attests Tess, who quickly makes note that the design process is a collective effort as the two young women put their creative minds together from inception until the product is ready for its new owner. “Two minds are definitely better than one, and ours obviously think the same,” she smiles, hiding tinge of shyness with a hand to the face. There is no segregation of duties between the fashion designers at Alli and Tess Studio. They both do the same work from start to finish. This, they explain is such that they both get to be all-round designers and seamstresses, something that will ensure continuity of the brand going into the future.The twins, whose demeanour would not seem sturdy enough to contend with the turmoil of the industry, at a first glance protest that they are strong enough to not get pushed around by clients and industry ‘experts’.  “We are not push-overs. This is a tough industry and we have come to understand its intricacies though we are still learning,” attests Tessa in a soft but yet convincing voice.   For the future, the two protégés are gravitating towards getting their merchandise into retail shops, especially the self-titled one they intend to open once the stars align. “Our biggest dream is to see our clothes in stores so that our target market, the youth can get our fashion,” says Allison in a dreamy voice, almost as if she is envisioning the impending success of their vocation.

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