Her contemporary, culturally inspired jewellery is gaining international acclaim and she’s capitialising on it by building a new lifestyle brand.
“Our jewellery line is all about Africa, as that’s already in me. My designs are very bold and dynamic; the aesthetic’s cultural, but with a contemporary twist. African jewellery has definitely passed the curio stage and is now seen more as art, which is great,” she says.
Mazabane’s plan to evolve into a lifestyle brand, in the same vein as Stoned Cherrie, includes expansion into home interiors, fashion pieces and even car accessories.
“I started with jewellery to create awareness of the brand. Heritage Month is the right time to expand. I didn’t want to go the conventional route and start with scatter cushions, as I prefer the unexpected. During a recent trip to Greece, I was inspired by their phareons [traditional headwear] and now I’m launching my own brand of hats. It’s been a very exciting journey, as I’ve had to teach myself how to put these hats together.’
Mazabane explains that she had to research ways of ensuring that her products wouldn’t be offensive. “I wanted to offer something stylish and different, but I was worried that it might be seen as cultural or religious appropriation, so I had to ensure I did this in the right context.”
Her rise to the top has been gradual, she started out small at markets. Now, however, she’s had to downsize in order to gain more control over her business.
“I welcomed my time in markets, building a customer base, but it limited what I could charge for my designs, as people don’t want to spend too much at a market. I’m now stocked at Butter Jewellery in Parkhurst, Johannesburg and am finalising a national deal with The Space, which will also stock my brand,” she says.
She’s also expanded into the US market. “An American supplier saw our stuff on Instagram and now we’re supplying it with jewellery. The group comprises people who travel the world and select pieces to take home which can then be offered to their countrymen. My work’s been very well received, so we’re looking at doing more collaborations with them. I’m also trying to get the brand into Australia.
“Much as I welcome international exposure, I believe that before you go global, you need to capture the local market, which is why I’m still focusing on taking the brand to new heights in SA.”
This article first appeared on the September issue of DESTINY.