The collections included on African Skies are each featuring products made by inspirational entrepreneurs. All of them demonstrate incredible design skills and creativity to create beautiful products of the highest quality that I admire greatly and am proud to showcase.
Some of the African businesses that I am working with are already fairly large and sustainable, a few are very much in the early stages of growth, whilst a number of the items featured are the work of gifted individuals who sell their pieces on the side of the road every day to make a living and feed their families. Their lives are not easy and the challenges they face have been made even harder during the current pandemic.
Here are just some of their stories.
Green Grass Design
Ria, a visual cultivator and graphic designer, started Green Grass Design in 2002, initially as a one-woman show but she then slowly employed people as the business grew. She was adamant that this was done in a very sustainable way by ensuring slow growth and never over-extending.
Today, Green Grass Design is a specialist design studio, where Ria has created a unique environment for their designers, other staff and those in their up-skilling workshops, to develop beautiful products. They use laser cutting and, together with various handiwork skills, produce unique products that are conceptual, beautiful and functional. All of their products are designed and manufactured in-house in the studio in Johannesburg.
As well as training the staff in these specialist handiwork skills, everyone from handiworker to shop assistant, shop manager to laser cutter operator, is also given experience in the different sides of the business... e.g. managing workflow and orders.
As a team, Green Grass Design has a very strong recycling and sustainability ethos. Managing waste, and adhering to their principles around the materials they use, is a primary consideration of every design. Their products are made from paper, recycled wood and Perspex – all of which are recycled or re-recyclable.
fluffi is a proudly South African product – the world’s most charming and eye catching keyring and mini duster. Made by hand in Cape Town, with the support of local community projects situated throughout South Africa, Fluffis are made using Ostrich feathers. These are trimmed from farmed ostriches, making them a 100% cruelty-free and natural material. In the sorting process, only the highest quality feathers are selected for their products.
In addition to the striking look and feel of their keyrings, it is the unique and amazing capabilities of ostrich feathers that really make these products so useful. They can withstand being scrunched up and getting wet and due to their incredible anti-static quality, they make the perfect ‘easy to find’ keyring and bag charm, as well as being ideal for dusting laptops and car interiors.
The Chommies ‘fairy tail’ began with two dogs, Hiker (better known as Superdawg) and Ringo, who met unexpectedly at a farmers market in the heart of Cape Town. The two dogs hit it off immediately which led to a friendship, love and business partnership between their owners, Nathalie & Zac.
The name Chommies is a South African colloquial word meaning ‘friends’. This name encapsulates the brand in its entirety with their products connecting humans and animals alike.
Every Chommies product is handcrafted with care by talented local artisans based out in Africa.
The Linnery Cape Town
The Linnery is a design studio based in the Eastern Cape, run by Gloria who loves to explore and celebrate the beauty of natural materials.
Through a design commitment to ‘effortless style’, she creates beautiful accessories made of linen, cotton, hemp and leather. The bags are as functional and comfortable as they are stylish, and each individual creation comes with a wonderful and happy surprise inside!
Rona Jessie by Jemma
Rona Jessie is an exciting South African designer brand. With a deep passion and love for beautiful luxurious fabrics and striking prints, each bag becomes a gorgeous, trend setting style statement and favourite accessory. Handbags are as important as a beautiful, good quality pair of shoes, the perfect accessory to spice up any outfit.
Jemma has a deep passion for beautiful fabrics along with a love of colours and eye catching prints, the foundations on which the Rona Jessie fold over clutches were born.
Rona Jessie bags are all manufactured in South Africa and the fabric is all sourced locally. Each style is affordable, unique and elegant chic.