Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Office Manager
Ms Doreen Mundondo (53), based in CITY of Gweru, has taken the footwear fashion industry by storm in the Midlands capital after introducing crocheted sandals and shoes to the market.
From the early eighties through the nineties, sweaters and crocheted hats were common, but now there are sandals and shoes.
Crocheting is a process of creating textiles by using a crochet hook to interlock loops of yarn, thread, or strands of other materials.
The name is derived from the French term crochet, which means small hook.
Originally from Masvingo, Ms Mundondo, who now walks on a crutch after fracturing her leg twice in 1999, said she makes a living from her trade.
Ranging from $3 for kids to $6 depending on size, the sandals are selling like hot cakes.
“A long time ago, I used to crochet covers that people put on VCRs to protect and beautify the machines. I have now moved on to handmade crochet summer/winter shoes, slippers and slops for young and old,” she said.
Ms Mundondo, who found an outlet outside the OK supermarket in Gweru, said she learned to crochet shoes in South Africa.
“I learned how to do this while I was in South Africa where I stayed for many years. I saw someone wearing a crocheted shoe and fell in love with the design. I was very inspired and I asked the person how it was done,” she said.
After learning, Ms. Mundondo said she bought different types of soles and wool and started practicing making the different sandals and shoes.
“Obviously it wasn’t easy and it took me some time to be satisfied with the quality. This all happened when I was in Pretoria when I first saw the art in 2014,” she said.
When Ms Mundondo returned home, she 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 was coming back from drilling and carrying a bucket of water. I missed a step, I tripped, I fell and I broke my right leg while healing I fell again and the same leg broke for the second time and now I use a crutch because at my age I was told that 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 suburb of Mkoba 19 in Gweru and got divorced in 2006. Thanks to my skills, I am able to pay rents and take care of myself. I even work at night when I receive orders. My kids are in Chiredzi and the firstborn, Kelvin, is into designing shoes and other things like t-shirts,” she said.
Ms. Mundondo said her only challenge was finding raw materials.
She said she used wool flair and insoles she got from South Africa.
“The problem I have is the lack of materials because 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 others want insole sizes that I don’t yet have available in South Africa,” Ms. Mundondo said.
She said sandals are the latest trend in the crochet project and the perfect addition to her summer wardrobe.
This collection, said Ms. Mundondo, offers different crochet patterns for beautiful sandals for summer.
“I have found that whether you are a beginner or more experienced crocheter, you will find the perfect patterns available and easy to make. I make crochet sandals that are perfect for winter and summer,” a- she declared.
Ms Mundondo said her experience was with boots, slippers and shoes.
“The trickiest part of each pattern is working the first row of single crochets into the holes in the soles of the flip flops. Once that’s done, the tension is really evenly distributed between the holes, which I think makes them durable. The good part 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.