Onê Rapelana is a self-taught Graphic designer turned Fashion creator/designer, she runs Xita, an accessories brand. Her designs are Afro-futuristic, quirky and bold. The Gaborone-based Botswana designer has had her work showcased on the runway of African Fashion International in South Africa.
For Creative Girls: Hi Onê! You combine your work as a UX Designer with being an Illustrator and Art Director. How did you navigate into these paths?
Hi! At first, I taught myself graphic design and did illustrations for “Women Crush Wednesday” which was a mini-series on Instagram where I created and uploaded illustrations and graphic art on the women that I admire every Wednesday. About a year later I asked a good friend of mine to be my mentor as I wanted to learn more about UI/UX design so he showed me the ropes.
I’m also very visual so combining UX/UI design and art direction comes naturally to me. I don’t limit myself to one creative career path as I believe they work hand in hand. For instance for my accessories brand Xita, I work as the art director, graphic designer as well as the UX/UI designer for the up and coming website.
You taught yourself graphic design. What led you into that terrain and why did you choose to be self-taught?
Since I was a child I’ve always been artistic and just naturally gravitated towards sketching. Given that I have a Bachelor of Business Science Degree in Marketing and Management, I didn’t want to go to school for another three years so I decided to teach myself through the help of YouTube tutorials and reading books such as “How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul” and also asked a good friend of mine to be my mentor who then took me under his wing.
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Your patterns and collections for Xita are afro-futuristic! Any specific points of inspiration?
Thank you! The funny thing is when I first designed my neckpieces a few years ago it was never my intention to create afro-futuristic neckpieces. It just began with me experimenting with different material and fabric, getting inspired my random objects, environmental surroundings, and geometric shapes. So I never thought my designs are afro- futuristic until a friend of mine told me.
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Where do you see the Botswana Fashion scene heading to? And what role do you see yourself playing in that scene?
Well slowly but surely the Botswana fashion scene is getting there. We already have the likes of Gatshfros and Tsholo Dikobe who have put Botswana on the fashion map. In addition, I would like to create a mentorship program for aspiring creatives.
How do you see and define creativity? What aspects of it would you like to see expressed in the world?
Creativity is all about breaking boundaries, being non-conforming while enjoying yourself at the same time. I would like to see more fearless creatives who just keep pushing boundaries because I believe that’s where you find the magic.
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Tell us about 3 women you admire.
Wow, there are many more women that I admire but if I were to shortlist them it would be Kyrzayda Rodriguez, Harriet Tubman, and Yuna.
The late Kyrzayda Rodriguez was a fashion blogger who never allowed cancer to keep her down. She continued to live life as normal despite being in a lot of pain, work every day even when she didn’t feel like it. Her resilience made her a remarkable woman.
I admire Harriet Tubman for her perseverance and selfless actions. Even though her life was in danger every day she was determined to rescue people from slavery.
Yuna, a Malaysian singer, for her effortless style and music.
Your favorite websites, resources, books or tools
Okay Africa, Instagram, YouTube, and Display of Power: How FUBU Changed a World of Fashion, Branding, and Lifestyle (book).