Streetwires champions a design project

…to turn craft into sophisticated design pieces

Streetwires, a Cape Town-based social enterprise famously known for its bead and wire products, is in a R6million co-investment with the Business Trust Shared Growth Challenge Fund to shift craft from an ‘ag shame’ purchase to a ‘must have’ sophisticated design piece.

It has set up a subsidiary division called the Indalo Project through which it will use its experience in the successful development and marketing of craft to enable twelve local enterprises that design and produce craft to create contemporary marketable products that will be sold domestically and internationally. The intervention includes brokering opportunities for collaboration between enterprises and designers as well as championing the marketing of their newly created products.  The anticipated outcomes include a unique sophisticated range of craft products, the transfer of design & marketing skills across the group of participants and evidence-based positive impact on sustainable job creation and the long-term sustainability.adrenaline rush ii obstacle course

“We’re looking to do something extraordinary. The aim of the project is to create original, unique ranges that are cutting edge in the market. There is huge scope for creating more sophisticated design in craft in South Africa,” says Patrick Schofield, Streetwires co-founder and winner of the Schwab Foundation/Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2008.

Streetwires has over the past seven years played a pivotal role in putting craft, bead and wire products specifically, on the global map. Its success domestically and overseas – Streetwires has a store in Berlin – equals stable regular income for the many bead and wire artists on its payroll.inflatable kiosk tent

Schofield is inspired by Bill Drayton, who, in discussing the founding of Ashoka, one of the leading international organisations that support social entrepreneurship, said:  ”Our job is not to give people fish, it’s not to teach them how to fish, it’s to build new and better fishing industries.”

The way the Indalo Project aims to boost the craft sector is by coupling experienced designers, who are in touch and connected in the market place, with skilled crafters, who understand the materials they work with, to create new unique product ranges for the domestic and international markets. The project will leverage off the Streetwires expertise and global network to champion the sales and marketing of these products. The creation of in-demand ranges will have an immediate impact on sales and, ultimately, each participant will emerge from this intervention with improved know-how and networks that will enable them to continue developing sophisticated, in-demand handmade craft products.

Work on developing new ranges is already underway and will be unveiled over six months from mid-October.


Streetwires – a pioneering Proudly South African and Fair Trade accredited social enterprise that employs 70 skilled wire craft artists. It specialises in the design, handcrafting and marketing of contemporary African wire and bead art in product ranges that include sculptures, corporate and promotional gifts, functional accessories and home décor items, among which is the highly successful range of art pieces depicting Nguni cattle.

Netshomi Zam – specialists in large scale welded steel sculptural works.

Motacraft – an exciting new enterprise specialising in cutting edge products which combine technology with traditional craft techniques.

Walo Nani – a Cape Town-based NGO employing 60 independent craft artists who work from home.  Using mainly recycled materials, they produce homeware and fashion accessory ranges that enjoy Proudly South African endorsement. Some of these craft artists also design and produce decorated light bulbs and mosaic work in a partnership project with Scott Hart from Magpie.

Iziko lo Lwazi Craftworkers – originally an adult literacy programme in Hout Bay but has since evolved to become an NGO currently employing 20 crafters who produce beaded pieces and handmade paper products from shredded recycled paper in combination with a variety of local natural materials.

Mielie – a fair trade accredited handcraft company founded by designer Adri Schutz in 2002 employing 50 experienced crafters from the greater Cape Town area who work from home. Its bright off-beat home decor products and accessories are woven from reclaimed pre-consumer textile waste strips from local T-shirt factories, employing a unique combination of traditional fibre-based craft techniques.

Beloved Beadwork – brings together a diverse group of 20 expert crafters who work from home to produce intricate, labour-intensive ‘wearable artworks’ from the finest quality Japanese and Czech glass beads, with precious metal finishing.

Nuno – a dynamic handcraft company, founded by designer Sue Kingma and employs twelve crafters who work with unconventional felt and fused fibre product ranges in a fair trade environment to produce scarves, shawls, jewellery pieces and other fashion accessories, as well as exclusive fused fibre décor items like runners, throws and cushion covers.

Shumba Inc. – a small design company based in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was formed in 2002 by Cape Town-based designer Hayley Rogers with her mother, Gillian, and sister, Philippa. This self-funded, socially responsible enterprise is based on an ethos of ‘empowerment through creativity’ and offers training and creative employment to specialised craft artists who produce high quality quirky hand-sewn and beaded felt characters.

Michaela Howse – Michaela worked with Streetwires in designing the Nguni cattle range which was a huge success.

Sharon Boonzaaier – an established designer and works in a wide variety of artistic disciplines ranging from design, illustration and painting to the manufacture of exclusive leather décor items and fashion accessories. She has received particular acclaim for her innovative leather chandeliers.

Joseph Diliza – a crafter who works with leather material.

Mireille Van Reenen – works in a wide range of digital and print media; and is skilled in more traditional techniques such as papermaking, wirework, knitting, sewing and ceramics. She has also worked on various design projects with craft organisations and developed her own range of custom ladies handbags.

Nicci Drzewicki – Nicci has extensive experience in both interior design and architecture, specialising in upmarket home renovations, commercial interiors and exhibition spaces. She has practised as an architect for 10- years and managed her own firm, DRZ Architects, since 2002. Nicci has a passion for all things beautiful and was also involved in the setting up of the décor retail store, Stuff, in Johannesburg.

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