Refilwe Mokate starts to laugh — her trademark wholehearted and infectious laugh — as she describes getting kitted out in safety boots, a hard hat, and a “onesie” (overall), as she calls it, to go kilometres down into the earth at South Deep gold mine. We’re talking dressing the part in the corporate world, and suddenly we’ve veered off from the power of a good black dress to the crazy (and decidedly not chic) gear she’s had to wear for the job over the years.
On the day we meet in Sandton, she’s in a distinctly less industrial little black number, complete with her mom’s heels (luckily, they share a shoe size), Gucci watch, and a fire-engine-red Louis Vuitton Passy GM bag. In fact, “I think I’d save it in a fire,” Mokate says of the holdall.
The thing is, it’s not immediately evident — unless you’re well versed in the leathers the high-end brands use — that you’re looking at an LV. “I like nice, quiet designs — not things that are monogrammed to hell or that make me look like I’m someone’s brand ambassador,” she says, adding, with a smile, “But who doesn’t want a red bag? It’s a classic.”
Mokate has had the Passy for years. “It was my first big-girl purchase,” she says. When she bought it, she was working at JP Morgan, in the investment-banking division.
After that, and having completed her MBA at Insead Business School, she co-founded Dew Partners — where she and her team advise clients on strategy, capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, investment, and the like.