Africa is in my blood. I was born in Zimbabwe and spent my childhood in South Africa, before funnily enough falling for a dashing young South African vet in, of all places, New Zealand. I was enjoying a career break from my job as a camerawoman and producer for BBC Sports News. He was working as a large animal vet in N.Z.
Thirteen years later and happily married, we visit South Africa frequently with our young boys to see family and friends; to hike and ride in the Drakensberg; swim in the huge Indian Ocean and explore Kruger, Cape Town and Lesotho.
On one of these visits, we came across the most exquisite Nguni cowhide rugs, cushions, bags and belts and we bought a few to take back home to Exmoor. After many admiring comments from friends and strangers (the latter kept stopping me in the street to ask where I got my bag, belt, or purse from), the idea for Zulucow was born.
I was adamant however, that this wouldn’t just be about creating beautiful, high quality, hand-made products, but also about supporting the people making them and the natural and sustainable provenance of the hides.
We are passionate about beautiful, vibrant South Africa, but it has many problems including one of the highest levels of unemployment in the world. I work closely with a manufacturer who employs 26 ladies and men, training them to become highly skilled craftswomen and men, so they can command an above minimum wage and earn an income to support their large extended families and communities. The long term aim of Zulucow, is to return a percentage of the profits back to these workers and their community.
The cowhides we use are sustainably sourced from the veld (or natural grasslands) and do not have a detrimental impact on the environment. Unlike the South American hides frequently sourced from ranches which have been cut out of the tropical rainforest to support the demand for such leather goods.
So here we are, in autumn 2013 already selling to a few boutiques and launching our website. It’s been quite a journey (especially with two young, hyperactive boys!) but at last www.zulucow.co.uk is LIVE! I look forward to seeing you soon.
Hamba Kahle! (Go Well!)