Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Office Manager
Ms Doreen Mundondo, 53, from CITY of Gweru has taken the footwear fashion industry by storm in the Midlands capital after launching crocheted sandals and shoes.
Crochet jerseys and hats were common in the early 80’s-90’s, but now there are sandals and shoes.
Crochet is a process of making textiles by using a crochet hook to interlock loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials.
The name derives from the French term crochet, meaning small hook.
Ms Mundondo, who is originally from Masvingo and now walks with the help of a crutch after breaking her leg twice in 1999, said she makes a living from her job.
Ranging from $3 for kids to $6 depending on size, the sandals are selling like hot cakes.
“A long time ago I crocheted cases that people put on videocassette players to protect and decorate the machines. I’ve now moved on to handmade crocheted summer/winter shoes, slippers and slippers for young and old,” she said.
Ms Mundondo, who found an outlet outside the OK supermarket in Gweru, said she learned how to crochet shoes in South Africa.
“I learned how to do this when I was in South Africa, where I lived for many years. I saw someone wearing a crocheted shoe and fell in love with the design. I was very inspired and asked the person how it was done,” she said.
After being tutored, Ms. Mundondo said she bought different types of soles and wool and started practicing how to make the different sandals and shoes.
“Of course it wasn’t easy and it took me a while to be satisfied with the quality. It all happened when I was in Pretoria in 2014, when I saw the art for the first time,” she said.
Coming home, Ms Mundondo said she suffered an unfortunate incident when she tripped and fell to the ground while carrying a bucket of water from a borehole.
“It was 2019 when I came back and broke my leg. I came out of the borehole carrying a bucket of water. I missed a step, tripped, fell and broke my right leg. When I recovered I fell again and the same leg was broken a second time and now I use a crutch because at my age I was told it would take a long time to heal,” she said.
Ms Mundondo, who divorced in 2006, said she had to learn and accept that she would be using a crutch for a long time.
“I live in the Mkoba 19 suburb of Gweru and got divorced in 2006. With my skills I am able to pay rent and take care of myself. I even work nights when I have assignments. My children are in Chiredzi and the firstborn, Kelvin, designs shoes and other things like t-shirts,” she said.
Ms Mundondo said her only challenge is finding raw materials.
She said she uses flair wool and soles that she gets from South Africa.
“My problem is the lack of materials as I import them from South Africa. I can’t travel now because of the leg. Some customers want colors that I don’t have and some want sole sizes that I don’t have yet, they are available in South Africa,” said Ms Mundondo.
She said sandals are the latest trend in the crochet project and the perfect addition to a summer wardrobe.
This collection, said Ms. Mundondo, has different crochet patterns for beautiful sandals for summer.
“I have found that whether you are a beginner or an experienced crocheter, you will find the perfect patterns available that are easy to make. I make crochet sandals that are perfect for winter and summer,” she said.
Ms Mundondo said her experience related to boots, slippers and shoes.
“The hardest part of each pattern is crocheting the first row of single crochet stitches into the holes in the flip flop soles. Once that’s done, the tension is really evenly distributed between the holes, which I think makes them durable. The good thing about this project is that you can customize the sole however you want,” she said.
Ms Mundondo said she plans to use social media such as WhatsApp to market her products.