The Talented, Zulu Craftswomen and Men Who Make our Cowhide Rugs, Bags, Belts….

I’ll never forget the first time we visited the talented craftswomen and men who finely craft Zulucow’s bags and accessories by hand. The unfailingly ebullient Ma Beatrice ran over and gave me a big hug and said ”We love you Lucy!” Whaat? OMG?

I was taken aback and humbled that our (then) small orders of cowhide rugs, cowhide cushionsbags, belts and purses were making a difference to her life. I didn’t realise that our orders meant these ladies and men had safe jobs and reliable incomes; which were desperately needed to support their families. Meeting Ma Beatrice, Ma Philippine, Lilhe, Bongiwe, Boaster, Thandeka and the rest of the team was quite overwhelming and certainly ‘opened my eyes.’ We were staggered that something we’d stumbled upon on a holiday back home in South Africa was actually making a difference to, it seemed, quite a few people’s lives.

Zulucow Nguni cowhide weekend bag travel bag holdall luggage brown and white travel accessories leather

Zulucow cowhide bags, cowhide rugs handmade by Zulu craftswomen


The first time I saw an Nguni cowhide rug  was at a ‘padstal’ (a roadside shop) on the edge of a dusty African road. It was exquisite with a gorgeous symmetrical pattern: glossy black and white with a flash of burnished copper running through its centre.

Zulucow Nguni tricolour cowhide rug tricolour brown black white rugs home interiors home decor animal skins animal print Nguni

It was the best quality hide I’d ever seen: heavy-weight with a luxurious pile and glossy texture. A fervent Nguni cowhide shopping spree ensued!

I have always coveted gorgeous leather bags like Mulberry handbags  Prada bags, Ralf Lauren’s leather bags and for everyday: Russell and Bromley’s leather bags, but I felt my natural, high quality leather, handmade, handbag with its funky cowhide pattern equalled these designer bags. And my sustainably sourced, Nguni cowhide rug easily was superior to a cowhide I’d see on The Rug Company website.

Back home in England, our new purchases: gorgeous cowhide rug ; my striking brown and white cowhide bag and fab cowhide belt  were constantly admired.Zulucow cowhide leather slouch shoulder bag chocolate brown & white fashion accessories bags womenswear

Zulucow cowhide leather slouch shoulder bag chocolate brown & white fashion accessories bags womenswear

And so it began. For the last three or so years we’ve been working closely with a growing team of talented craftswomen and men in rural Zululand. Huge respect and friendships have been forged; and now our children and theirs have met (bonding over football of course; and a common interest in the “BPL” (English Premier League.)

Zulucow cowhide rugs. Sifose and boys. Ethical job creation African craftsmen and women

I am very proud to say that all our Zulucow cowhide rugs and cowhide home and fashion accessories have been made by these craftswomen and men, who have been trained in new skills and in different production areas; and that our orders are creating sustainable jobs in a country with 50% unemployment, (up to 70% in rural areas.)

Nguni cowhide rugs, cowhide handbags cowhide furniture, home accessories, interiors women's accessories

Often in South Africa, women are left to support themselves and their many dependents (young and old.) Frequently their husbands leave home to find jobs in big cities like Joburg, never to return.(Many husbands set up second families in the city.) Ma Beatrice’s husband in contrast has remained with the family, but she told me that he had to go to Durban to find a job, in a timber factory. Ma Beatrice is fabulous! Joyful, warm and fun, embracing our boys in a huge warm Zulu hug!



Ma Beatrice and boys Zulucow cowhide rugs cowhide bags leather home interiors home accessories rugs Zulucow cowhide rugs. Ma Beatrice and the boys. Natural leather ethically sourced home decor interiors Africa

We visit the ‘Zulucow’ ladies and men as often as we can and have grown close to some of them. It’s heart-warming and humbling that in its small way, Zulucow is making a difference. It also feels good to get a bit of perspective on our privileged lives; give a little back …and have a lot of fun along the way!

Zulucow Nguni cowhide bag cowhide belts handmade leather bags, brown and white womens' accessories

Zulucow cowhide bags leather bags handmade by skilled craftswomen women's accessories handbags brown

 Hamba Kahle!




2017-02-19T23:32:04+00:00 May 30th, 2016|