PE Mom’s sweet taste of entrepreneurial success

2019-05-22 06:01
ABOVE: A product from the Unwrapping Sweet Conversation collection.  Photo: SUPPLIED

ABOVE: A product from the Unwrapping Sweet Conversation collection. Photo: SUPPLIED

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THE rise of socially responsible consumerism makes it clearer now than ever before that humanity needs to reduce its ecological footprint by changing the way one produces, consumes and dispose of goods and resources.

Naomi Ledoux, a working mom from PE with a CA(SA) background has put a positive spin on the situation with her ‘waste to most-wanted’ business, MyAfricanMum.

She has engaged with communities in the Eastern Cape to collect wrappers from the likes of sweets, cool drinks, biscuits and chocolates, and upcycle them into bespoke, handcrafted handbags and journal covers.

Launched in 2016, MyAfricanMum’s main collection, The Unwrapping Sweet Conversation, is so popular that there was a three-month waiting list for items in the collection.

Its newest collection, Jolli Happy, was launched on March 1, this year and another collection is in the pipeline thanks to a major luxury chocolate brand’s involvement.

While that is a sparkling entrepreneurial business success all round, MyAfricanMum’s business approach is making a valuable contribution to the United Nations (UN)’s 12th sustainable development goal (SDG), of responsible consumption and production. It also contributes to SDGs 5 and 8, of gender equality and decent work and employment respectively, by employing a handful of previously unemployed stay-at-home moms for the production of these covetable products.

Unwrapping the ‘working mum’ conundrum

When her family relocated from the small seaside village of Kidd’s Beach to PE, Naomi did not want their housekeeper to be unemployed, and so MyAfricanMum was born.

Though they only perfected their workmanship mid-2018, response to their first collection ‘Unwrapping Sweet Conversation’, was so phenomenal that a further three crafters were added to their team – they work from home to earn extra income, with the ‘collecting’ team who is now effectively the whole community, some of whom had never recycled before.

The shift from waste to most-wanted

It is also rewarding working on something creative that has a completely different look to the end-result each time, as the team has been told that the handbags are ‘works of art’.

Naomi does the basic design, but the wrapper selection is completely left to the crafters.

“So if you look closely you will see their favourite colours coming through – the bags become their own.

“We also steer away from custom orders, because special requests for certain wrappers have led the team to spending days trying to find them, when the aim is to use the recycled wrappers at hand,” Naomi said.

The labour-intensive production process means it takes roughly two days to make a clutch bag, four days for a medium bag and up to eight days for a very large handbag.

The crafters clean, cut and seal the wrappers before starting to build the bags.

Extra ‘reuse and upcycle’ steps that bring the SDG closer to reality

MyAfricanMum sends offcuts and unusable wrapper parts to a recycler who makes Eco Bricks. Calyx Boutique and the GFI Gallery have also recently partnered with MyAfricanMum to make their facilities wrapper recycle drop-off points.

“It’s as easy as deciding not to listen to your ego: We’re afraid of failing, which hinders us from pursuing our hearts’ desires. If each of us could be kinder and gentler to ourselves, our planet and each other, that’ll be the start of a ripple effect.”

“As a purpose-led profession, it’s on all of us to make our own ripple and start transforming the world into a better place, community by community.”

Visit the MyAfricaMum Facebook page on www.facebook.com/myafricamum for more information.

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