‘A piece of jewellery made with love, with an African feel that can be worn with pride by both the young and old’.
That’s how Nondumiso describes her creations. She is the Pretoria-based self taught entrepreneur, whose love for art and fashion made her start jewellery line – Nondi’s Handcrafted Jewellery. She shares with us her journey in the creative industry
How and when did Nondi’s Handcrafted Jewellery idea come about?
Nondi’s Handcrafted Jewellery is a South African brand that was established in June 2017 by me, Nondumiso Mkhatshwa – a young and ambitious working woman from a historically disadvantaged background.
My passion for design and art started as a hobby when I was little girl. I used to make drawings as a child and this evolved into designing my own clothing during my varsity days. I remember drawing a portrait of my father which looked exactly like him. I also used to come first in high school in art class, later becoming an artist of the month.
As I entered into the labour force, I began designing jewellery as a way to distress after a long day at work.
My vision is to produce quality, modern, bespoke and classy jewellery that appeals to a variety of women, with the aim of creating a collection of pieces for all types of occasions. A piece of jewellery made with love, with an African feel that can be worn with pride by both the young and old.
When did you decide to turn your creativity into a business?
After receiving a lot of requests from close family and friends for items I had made for myself, I decided to pursue jewellery design.
As demand for the jewellery increased, I decided to be more intentional about expanding my knowledge on the craft. Upon experimentation with different unlikely material, my love for art came alive as I was able to creatively coordinate pieces better. I spent hours inquiring from people what they loved about my jewellery and also visited jewellery shops to gain a deeper understanding about different types of raw material.
What inspires your creations?
As a self-taught jeweller, I like to express my feelings through the creation of beautiful art pieces, hoping to send a message to the women and youth from disadvantaged communities that it is possible if you believe in yourself I like beautiful and unique things. I also believe that there is no waste, any item can be transformed into a beautiful design. Some of the pieces are designed out of waste material.
I get a lot of support from close friends and family who were my first client’s. My parents being my biggest cheerleaders – they have encouraged me to pursue my talent to the highest level. My mother is also talented she motivated me to become an entrepreneur and also contributes by bringing in new ideas that help grow my business.
My favourite piece is the Sarah Baartman earrings made from mirror perspex, a reflection of who we are. This piece is a perfect representation of the African beauty. The idea behind the design was to celebrate her life in a different and more positive way. I believe that as Africans we need to rewrite our stories, change the narrative, celebrate and embrace our unique and beautiful features.
Give us a brief description of the process of making an earpiece or neck-piece; from the design to getting it to the clients.
I put down all my ideas into drawings and cut a few paper pieces as a small scale model of the actual design. I sometimes change designs based on the material I have available. Sometimes its difficult to get the exact raw material I need, but my creativity comes into play when I have to make a plan and work with whatever I find. I love experimenting with different pieces that’s why all my designs are completely different and I always get fulfillment from seeing how the final product looks. It’s always interesting to see my imagination coming into life. Each and every piece has a special meaning and a story behind.
Your jewellery have been worn by a couple of celebrities and personalities, how do you feel when you see your works out there?
It is so humbling and encouraging. It has changed my perspective on SA women when it comes to the spirit of women empowerment (Womandla). The support I have received from many South African women is so overwhelming and I am grateful or that. I have seen my work on various platforms with people like Ms Lira and Aus Tebza; I got nominated for the Sunrise Woman Awards (in Mpumalanga) with just 6 months into the business.
I have collaborated with Mrs Litelu and Constance Saal and participated in a number of Charity events working with Eulender Nanni in Mpumalanga.
How did it feel when the Lira Barbie doll came out with your earpiece as one of the accessories?
Firstly to have Ms Lira wearing my jewellery in less than six months into the business was a blessing on its own. She gave me a platform and believed in my brand. She has taught me what it means to be genuine and true to yourself, brand and your values. She is one of the South African women who believe in supporting entrepreneurs in South Africa.
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I am proud to announce that I have been awarded a one-of-a-kind Lira Barbie doll, as part of Barbie’s 60th Anniversary Shero campaign celebrating role models who inspire young girls to be all they can be. I am the very first African to be bestowed with this honour and I’m simply thrilled to be honoured in this way. #barbie60 #YouCanBeAnything #MoreRoleModels
Seeing my work on Barbie Lira felt like a dream to me. It made me realize how important it is to remain authentic and consistent. I have learned to appreciate my work even more and I’m motivated to work even harder. Running a business as an entrepreneur can be challenging at times but the support received from my clientele helps and keeps me going
Earrings, necklaces, what’s next? Wrist watches, shoes?
I plan to expand the Nondi brand beyond the South African borders, possibly creating job opportunities to local communities. I have a desire to tap into other items in addition to the jewellery line.
My product is unique, handcrafted with love, and available for the local market at an affordable rate.
I produce a maximum of two items per design for exclusivity, and thrive in producing custom made items to suit my customers’ needs. When it comes to art, there is no waste; any item can be transformed into a masterpiece.
As a creative person, how are you able to grow your business while pushing a 9-5 career?
I think it is important to use time wisely. So, I plan a week ahead just to make sure that I find balance between work and business. I also put in extra time to the business hours. I also get assistance from my children during weekends, especially when I have big orders to complete in a short space of time. I also value time so much that I cannot afford for a day to go by without having achieved something new.