Nyathi’s natural curiosity, love and passion for bold African jewels and cultures led her to launch Indwe Designs. “It’s always been my dream to do something I love and make money out of it. I was also inspired by seeing crafters succeeding as entrepreneurs. That pushed me to polish my own talent so that I could reach the same level,” she says.
Her designs are mostly sparked by an African aesthetic – all the pieces are individually beaded and handmade, with immaculate detail and a unique technique.
That uniqueness, she says, has played a large part in driving her success. “Each piece I make is different and usually a ‘once-off’ item. People like that. Everyone wants to be different,” she says.
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However, it hasn’t been easy for the Cape Town-based designer, as one of the biggest hurdles was finding the finances to start Indwe Designs. “I still have my day job as a salesperson because that helps fund my business. During the week, I go to work, and at night and on my days off, I focus on my business production. I’m still trying to overcome my challenges and I’m nowhere near where I want to be. It’s a work in progress,” she says.
A self-taught jewellery designer, she commends her late brother for playing a significant role in her life and sparking her interest in entrepreneurship. “He was a strong businessman. I used to assist him with his recycling business and attended his meetings and arts and crafts workshops. I’d take wire offcuts and make myself beautiful statement earrings – I’m a person who loves standing out.”
She feels that under-pricing her products and treating her business like a hobby were the biggest mistakes she’s made as an entrepreneur. “I didn’t believe in my product for a long time. I think my business would be further along if I’d treated it like a business from the start,” she says.
After fours years in business, she’s learnt that an entrepreneur’s engine is passion and being open to networking with people. “It’s not just about the product or service, but also about building sustainable relationships. As an entrepreneur, you have to be an opportunist – and opportunities usually come via people you meet. One must always be prepared,” she reveals.
Naythi’s dream is to expand her business, open a boutique store and exhibit her pieces at international exhibitions around the world.