A Kensington resident and social activist is determined to bring about change in his community and hopes to do this one rug at a time.
Zahier Davids and his childhood friend Geoff Wanamaker established Spinnerkop six months ago, a business that specialises in rugs with the key focus to employ women who are survivors of or vulnerable to being exposed to gender-based violence (GBV).
Davids says they are focused on creating employment, marketing and networking opportunities for communities at risk.
With the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign launched on Thursday 25 November, Davids says the idea is to train women survivors to help them become independent.
The campaign will run until Friday 10 December.
“We figured a lot of women stay in abusive relationships because they are unemployed, and not independent. The most obvious thing to do is make them independent, so that they can get some money into their pocket to be self-sustainable.”
He explains that Tuft-Love, based in the United States of America (USA) and run by Wanamaker, is the sister company of Spinnerkop. The company supplies tuft guns and other materials needed to manufacture rugs.
Davids explains the significance of the business’ name, Spinnerkop. “Spinnerkop is the Afrikaans word for spider. We as fine rug makers take inspiration from the spider’s precision and persistent creativity.”
He explains that the business is currently being run from the Shawco Centre in Kensington. I have one employee, Lucinda Claasen, working with me. She was involved in a drive-by shooting years ago and she is doing well and mastering the art of tufting.”
According to Davids, he had no idea what rug making was about until six month ago when his idea to start the business was sparked. He explains that they were met with challenges and he had to teach himself the basic skills.
“One of the first steps is getting the image and then transferring it onto the tufting fabric. We use a projector to get the image on the fabric and then we trace it. Once that is done, we determine what colour yarn to use. The machine we use is the tufting gun and we use a specific glue. We have about 10 manual tufting machines. A lot of labour goes into it.”
He explains that completing a rug from start to finish can take a few hours.
According to Davids they recently had their first tufting workshop.
“People pay us a fee, then we teach them the art of tufting. We show you how to do the trimming, the cutting.”
Claasen says after her traumatic experience 20 years ago she made it her mission to achieve anything she set her mind to.
“I was shot through the neck and the bullet came out by my cheek, it was just an inch away from my wind pipe. I survived it through the grace of God. I had just learnt to tuft a rug and I didn’t see myself doing this. But in this short time, I’ve learnt a lot. I have always wanted to do my own thing and be different from others.”
She encourages other women to not become a victim to their circumstances.
“I still remember like it was yesterday. Looking back now, I didn’t see myself where I am today. I would encourage other women to do this as well. Be strong and do your best to achieve what you want to achieve.”
Davids says their goal is to establish a fully equipped manufacturing facility and making their own designs to “create a unique South African style of rug”.
Davids says as they expand the business, he also hopes to employ more women from the community.