With more than 60 crafters exhibiting at CraftFest, brought to you by The Independent on Saturday and Shongweni Farmers and Craft Market, we spoke to four women who bring you bold and innovative designs in jewellery and clothing.
All of them loved CraftFest in April and are looking forward to being back at the market on Women’s Day. So get your tickets now.
Yarisha Singh of Boho Bindi was a professional dancer with a career in the performing arts in Johannesburg before finding her niche as a jewellery designer in her “semi-retirement”.
“I’ve always been interested in fashion and this was my creative outlet that I didn’t have on stage. Initially it was a hobby, but friends wanted pieces and so it grew.”
Her style is Bohemian inspired, on trend and infused with vintage appeal and she feels she has something for everyone. Her range includes silver and a more affordable zinc alloy. Her cubic zirconia range is also very popular.
But for Singh, the best are her one-off, hand-made pieces. “These are my babies,” she says.
Her advice to her customers is simple: “Dress simply, accessorise awesomely.”
Singh has been trading at the Shongweni Farmers and Craft market for almost two years now, since the family moved to uMhlanga, and when she’s not busy with her handmade jewellery, she still dances. When the opportunity arises, she does choreography, or produces and directs. She is also a yoga therapist and has two young children.
Kylie Bilse came to jewellery design with her love of big bold statement-making designs. “I was basically making jewellery for myself and I got so many compliments from friends. And then came the orders and it just took off,” she said.
Her Earth To You range is made from clay, hand-moulded and designed from scratch. Pieces may even be studded with crystals, shells, driftwood or even semi precious stones.
She told how she once fashioned a piece of jewellery for a dolphin trainer out of a dolphin’s tooth that had to be removed.
“My designs are inspired by north African and ethnic designs. I love unusual statement pieces. Take a simple outfit and wear it with a statement piece and you’ve just made it,” Bilse says.
Frances Ridl of Just-U started life as a medical technologist, but on a “very early retirement” decided to get creative.
“I started making ceramic jewellery but then I moved to working with metal. Now I’m making brass, copper and silver jewellery and a range of leather jewellery with stainless steel bindings for men and women,” Ridl says.
“And I’m loving it. I’m an amateur and am completely self-taught, but I love metal work because it feels like I’m working in my laboratory again, while being allowed to explore my creative side,” she said.
Ridl specialises in mid range jewellery and creates delicate and desirable rings and earrings. She has been trading at markets for five years now, starting at Essenwood, and loved the last CraftFest. “It was a really cool vibe, everyone was happy,” she said.
From jewellery to clothing. Tracy Eagles’ Boho Handmade specialises in just that - handmade clothing for women with a fuller figure.
“I’ve had a fuller figure all my life and could never find clothes anywhere. And when we came to Durban five years ago it was also so incredibly hot. So I started making clothes myself,” Eagles says.
“Then I would sell to friends and it just took off. I started at the Essenwood market and from my first trading day it’s been phenominal.
“I’ve seen these women come to me looking like a sack of wheat with a string around her middle and I’ve transformed her in no time,” says Eagles about her products and her customers.
She says 90% of them are repeat customers.
Her range can be anything from size 8 to size 28 and many of her garments are bespoke.
There’s only ever one in each size. And some of her clothes could fit three to four different sizes. “I get these ladies coming to me who are really big girls and many say they’d never fit in a 2XL. I take a look at their body and tell them to try, and it fits,” Eagles says.
Eagles only uses good fabric and is known for her flowing chiffon jackets.
She has been doing the markets for six years now and really loved the last CraftFest. “I was blown away by the numbers. I don’t drink, but would love to have tried the pink gins all the ladies were drinking,” she said.
- Save the date - August 9 at the Shongweni Farmers and Craft Market from 10am to 4pm. Tickets R100 from Quicket or R120 on the day. There are a limited number of early bird tickets available at R50. See our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CraftFestIOS