I am a creative person at heart, a self-taught bead artist and absolute accessories/ jewellery addict. I think my “addiction” to jewellery pieces got me to this point in my journey as well as sketching cartoons from childhood and being exposed to art as a subject in high school led me to my passion for handcrafts and design. Being an only child and having no one to play with 24/7, I got drawn to sketching, colouring and keeping vision boards as quiet hobbies.
My father is a lawyer by profession who never did practice the law per se and my mother is an educator by profession who exposed me to entrepreneurship or the proverbial “hustling”. Apart from her, my late maternal grandmother also exposed me to entrepreneurship in the rural village of Botlokwa, Ga-Ramokgopa where I was raised in part till I was 3. She sold almost everything- selling spinach which she grew from our backyard, live chickens, “di zimba” or chips, ice blocks, archaar and “ou klere” (second-hand clothing) which my late Uncle used to collect and bring back home to the village from Gauteng. I never did take these things to heart until my big age.
What makes me wake up in the morning is a hunger for a higher, fulfilling and purposefully lived life. Building my business and delivering a client’s order and receiving positive feedback are some of the things I wake up for each day. But what also makes me wake up in the morning are the possibilities life can give me and the thrill that lies in believing in my dreams just a little bit more. Life is a blessing and a challenge. I find these two things exciting and scary at the same time.
Family to me are the people that are most loyal to you. Your tribe. Family is those individuals who even beyond DNA form your circle and stay by your side when seasons are challenging and they still choose you – to believe you and to hold the integrity of your dreams and your identity. I believe that family is important and that families do evolve. I believe that a true family esteems you, values you and absolutely adore you and are present.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey?
My business is about esteeming African handcrafts beyond souvenir gifts. When I started Azura Handcrafted Jewellery, I wanted the jewellery to make Africa women proud because we are already a continent full of beautiful men and women. Our product offering exhibits and produces bespoke, premium and African jewellery pieces that go with the times of modern African women who understand that the luxury of their pieces from us is in how they were intrinsically made using ancient African beading techniques for a modern, leading and progressively stylish woman.
I started over 6 years ago even though I was quite playful and didn’t take myself seriously at the time. We are based in Johannesburg, South Africa. What makes our jewellery standout is the boldness that our statement pieces carry. The quality of the beads we source and craftsmanship behind our jewellery and the choice of colours that adorn our designs.
Where can one find your products?
We currently take orders on www.azura.africa / firstname.lastname@example.org and across all our social media pages. Although we are currently not shipping internationally yet, we hope to do so as we’ve had previous orders. We source all our loose beads from South Africa and carry out our production ourselves in South Africa by hand. All of our jewellery items are essentially made by hand.
What makes my brand standout is that we are a growing micro-size jewellery business and as the Creative Director of the business, I am self-taught to bead.
What Challenges do you face as a woman in business?
Funding my business from my pocket. Knocking on doors that sometimes don’t open and the lack of frames of references for the kind of industry I am in through mentors from villages, rural areas or from social circles that limit growth is challenging. Insufficient access to market has also been challenging amongst the influx of cheap knock-offs have not positioned businesses like my own to thrive in a more stable environment.
Unfortunately, there are structures in the business world that still don’t listen to women business owners be it socially and culturally. I would call for a change in the form of inclusivity for women in the business arena.
Covid 19 has affected our business twofold: in one sense, we have decided to digitize our business completely such that we established a webpage under www.azura.africa, we have gone to invest in more content creation for our business and have developed marketing strategies for our business which are challenging and exciting to bolster growth for our social media accounts and as a route to market our product offering and drive MORE sales!
On the other, we have been in the dire position of losing momentum and sales due to the Covid-19 under Levels 5 and 4 because we are unable to attend markets, exhibitions, expos or pop-up stores due to current regulations under Level 3 in the country. These face-to-face opportunities gave us exposure to our clients, drove 35%- 45% of our sales and allowed us to grow networks and sell!
How does your work impact on Community?
I have two employees a seamstress and a beader. I believe that their skills are enabling my business to rise again. We have impacted each other and are co-existing women owned enterprises.
During the month of September which is heritage month in South Africa, we collect and sell indigenous beaded jewellery from the rural community of Botlokwa, Limpopo from an NPO we have partnered with called Itsosheng- “Wake yourself up”. All products sourced from them goes to all of them.
What is your advise to other women?
My advise to other women is as follows: Learn and read more about the industry that you aspire to operate in as soon as yesterday. Invest in a mentor early in your journey and take yourself seriously as they will be the only resource for a while before their businesses take flight!
What steps are you taking to digitise your business?
I recently completed my Digital Marketing certificate from the School of Marketing in London in conjunction with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs. I will also be completing the mentoring program this year.
We can be found on www.azura.africa
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