Crafters go to market

Local crafters are proving that commercial success is possible for organisations with a social focus.
Posted 17 Jan 11 By Design Indaba Craft Creative Work / Design News Comments

Durban-based public benefit organisation the Umcebo Trust recently delivered their first order of wire and bead chandeliers to premium retailer Weylandts.

This is one step for Umcebo but a giant leap for income generating crafters across the country, proving that craft-based businesses also have the to ability to compete in exclusive retail environments.

The Umcebo Trust is a public benefit organisation with a goal to empower impoverished young crafters and people with special needs through generating an income from their artistic talents. In terms of the recent deal, Umcebo manufactured eight "Sunset Sparkle" and four "Flower Power" chandeliers from their flagship "After Dark" range for the retailer.

Robin Opperman, director and founder of the Umcebo Trust, believes that this association with Weylandts will add significant credibility to the organisation and the craft sector as a whole. “Being a community-based craft organisation you battle with design credibility. Being noticed by Weylandts means we are part of their range and catalogues and that people immediately abandon their preconceptions and sit up and take notice.”

The collaboration between Umcebo and Weylandts has not been without its challenges. “When dealing with a customer of this nature you have to ensure that you not only take care of the creative work, but that you liaise properly with the client, complete all the paperwork on time and communicate clearly. It is about retail on another level, and you need to be ready to rise to the occasion,” says Opperman.