In its endeavour to bring South African craft into mainstream décor markets the St Lucia Wetlands Park Authority’s craft programme has entered into an exciting new partnership with Mr Price Home.
Just some of the new and exciting products perhaps marked with promotional codes in the ROOTED. range
Twenty-four producer groups are geared up to make Rooted. craft products. The first range of being specifically designed for Mr Price. For the first time, rural crafters are making highly sophisticated products woven from isikhonkho, sisal and ilala palm which will have a strong presence in the South African retail market - at prices that are affordable for the discerning buyer, and also fair and right for the crafters.
This is the culmination of six years of painstaking work for the St Lucia Wetlands Authority’s craft programme. Craft has great potential as an important source of income for skilled but formally unemployed people and this partnership has the potential to significantly increase the number of crafters involved in the programme through the volume of potential orders.
Product developers have helped crafters to create products that have become sought after by exclusive décor and accessory outlets. The groups are supported to become effective organisations so that they can manage the challenges of producing large orders, meeting deadlines and the production of consistently high quality products. Through conducting training, mentoring and transferring skills effectively the product developers have supported crafters to overcome these challenges. This programme is implemented by the St Lucia Wetlands Authority as part of its activities that ensure that neighbouring communities derive benefits from the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.
Mr Price Home’s commitment to supporting South African designers and producers is reflected in the fair price the crafters have negotiated for their products. Crafters will sell their products directly to Mr Price Home. There will be no middleman. This means that crafters will be able to get better prices for their products. SJ Wholesalers, a long standing supplier of Mr Price Home, has agreed to play the roll of 3rd party partner as part of their social responsibility. SJ Wholesalers will deal with quality control, pay crafters, and pack and deliver product. This cost is carried by Mr Price Home. The large orders Mr Price Home is able to place will allow crafters to earn a more consistent income, encouraging increasing attention to quality and innovation.
The product developers explain a design (left) and then the crafters make it a reality (right)
The prices are right, the craft groups are enthusiastic, and the Mr Price team, like the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park product development team, is young, keen and committed. We are confident that this creative three-way partnership will show South Africa a practical way to achieve a positive benefit flow between poor rural and rich urban area this, while encouraging the further development and production of beautiful hand made South African products.
The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park craft programme has received funding from the National Department of Arts and Culture, CREATE SA and the Flemish government. From the beginning Marisa Fick Jordaan of the BAT Shop has provided expert product design input as well as ongoing inspiration and commitment to the Programme. We'd like to acknowledge and thank Zanele Dube (product developer) and Judy Clements (buyer) for their hard work with the BAT, and Isaiah Mahlangu and Nombeko Dlamini, project managers who helped shape the programme. Our debt to Richard Sparks of Bright House is incalculable. His product design and ongoing role as mentor to our product developers has helped them to become South Africa's experts on local grasses and the technology and techniques of grass weaving. Finally thanks go out to Bronwyn “ Ma James” James for driving and leading the project since its inception.