uSisi Designs

194 Pine Street
Pietermaritzburg
KN 3201

uSisi Designs

Social EnterpriseArtisan/Art StudioReuse

Overview

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USisi Designs is a dynamic craft business passionate about employment through exceptional handwork. We produce an exquisite range of fashion accessories,homeware and decorations made by the hands of South African women.

The idea for uSisi (which means “sisters” in Zulu) Designs originated during the 1980s in the ethnic “homelands” of the old South Africa – the South Africa of apartheid and forced resettlement areas. The group’s founder, Stella Pretorius, worked with children suffering from disabilities, but found that most were also experiencing severe malnutrition, as their parents could not provide for them. Leaving the healthcare field, she decided to launch a series of income generating activities for these parents; in 2004, uSisi was the latest such project aimed at giving disadvantaged South Africans a means to support themselves and their families.

Since that time, more than one hundred women have worked with the project, earning enough money to put their children through school, build houses and keep food on the table. Currently 40 women from different cultural backgrounds work together to craft the groups’ innovative products. The artisans come into the workshop once or twice a week where they receive their raw materials and instructions. To perform the craft work, they return to their homes, where they can look after their children and households and save money by not traveling every day.

We are a group of women who are keen on building family and developing strong moral and Christian foundations to enable us all to be functional on all levels of life.

At uSisi Designs we want to leave behind a cleaner world, and a passion to keep it that way for the future generations, by recycling, redesigning, educating and inspiring people to do the same.

We buy old saris from Indian women and make scarfs, chandeliers, patchwork picture frames and wall hangings from the richly colored and silky fabric.

Using glass bottles that are so abundantly available from bins at street corners and landfills, we began to make beautiful, innovative, functional and decorative pieces for interior decoration. We cut bottles into drinking tumblers. The 'necks' of the bottles are melted down and string the rings together to create chandeliers, lights and beautiful window decorations. Working with this new medium has opened a unique door in the manufacturing and design process and we are eagerly testing the boundaries of what can be done with glass and heat.

The buttons we use are overruns from factories. There is a purpose for all sizes of the buttons that we get, large or small. The buttons then become main components in some of our products, namely, the fringe button chandeliers, Christmas angel decorations and a number of wrapped shapes that can be used as household decorations.

We also collect misprinted potato bags from a local wholesaler and cut them up to make gift bags. These potato bags would have been discarded, but we have found that they make for beautiful yet different gift bags, which a number of our customers cannot do without.

+27 33 345 5783

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