We return to Africa once and sometimes twice a year and have been doing so since Birdwoods New Zealand was established in 2004 to do business with the craftspeople of Zimbabwe and South Africa. We trade with the men and women who have chosen to create, craft and market their wares often under incredibly difficult circumstances and in conditions most people could not imagine being creative in. I particularly enjoy doing business with the women who show tremendous character, resilience and business savvy, along with a wonderful warm sense of humour and humility. I would therefore like to dedicate this blog to them and introduce the following women to you.
Professional Stone Sculptor Perlagia Mutyavaviri: A very talented Zimbabwean, one of the few women sculptors and an intelligent, educated, creative and very hard working woman. Her work reflects this.
Priscilla the Packer: She carefully wraps and packs our goods for shipment out of Cape Town and looks a million dollars every time we see her and always has a huge smile. How she keeps her finger nails manicured, we are not sure!
Beauty the Fabric Queen: She works out of Avondale Market in Harare creating hand dyed and painted cushion covers and runners, often late into the night. She then dresses to sell over the weekend in the busy market. Her work is consistently of a high standard and she is eager to sell into the export market.
Fabulous Fortunate: Many of the copper and brass bangles we purchase are from Fortunate – a very stylish lady with great dress sense and a lovely lady to trade with. She drives a hard bargain with traders from the north of Zimbabwe and is one of the few to see the benefit in selling something different to her neighbouring stall holders.
Mother Africa: A Zimbabwean lady we passed on a dusty road coming from her market garden not far from Tengenenge Sculpture Community in the Guruve area of Zimbabwe, who shared her smile with us as she was making her way to the bus stop to sell her produce.
Maridadi Mama – Maridadi is Swahili for something beautiful. This lady works for Maridadi Pewter Designs in KwaZulu Natal where we saw her polishing and sanding pewter creations. This is a very innovative and creative business which exports worldwide. Jenny Hallett and her husband Alan are a creative duo, Jenny runs the pewter business whilst Alan is a well known bronze sculptor.
Kubatana Bindi: Belinda makes wonderful gift and décor items using traditional African fabrics and works closely with a couple of women who make them with her.
Birdwoods Zimbabwe: Joy Denton pictured here with her hunky son David (who plays rugby for Scotland).
Joy and her husband Tim purchased Birdwoods Zimbabwe in 2004 and have survived the worst of Zimbabwean economics! They continue to supply Birdwoods metal sculptures around the world and huge credit to them for doing so in very difficult trading conditions.
Mrs Ebenezer: Don’t mess with her! She sources treasures from West Africa for the Cape Town Markets and is a force to be reckoned with!
Finally, and you won’t believe there really are two of us….
Louise Stobart from Howick, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa – founder of the Howick Hospice and a truly wonderful woman whom I am proud to share her name with!