When Palesa Khobane started making jewellery, little did she know that one day she would be supplying shops with earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
Her accessories are in high demand and it is thanks to her friends that she decided to pursue her career.
“I started making accessories in 2008 as a hobby for myself. People started showing interest and I started randomly making accessories for my friends and family,” the 33-year-old owner of Jua Accessories told Vutivi News.
“I didn’t even go to school for it. It started when I was broke one afternoon. I asked myself what can I do or make to get money? So, I went to the bead shop and decided to make earrings. I did not know what I was doing. I just started and practised, which perfected my art.”
Khobane said that her love of accessories and beads originated from when she was a child and would visit coastal cities, where she fell in love with what the marketplace had to offer.
“I believe it was a hidden talent. Whenever we travelled to Durban or Cape Town, I was always the first to stalk a market. I was always drawn to the market, but I was not fortunate enough to be taught how to bead like young women in rural areas are taught,” she said.
She initially wanted to be a paediatrician. But ended up in psychology.
This is far from her current hustle, which sees her designing accessories as early as 3am to meet her orders.
“Anything inspires me. I could be walking in the park and I will see a flower and the
combinations of the colours on the petals will inspire me. I can be in a store and the way they’ve painted their wall, or what prints a furniture store uses, will inspire me. I have a photographic memory and an eye for colour,” she said.
Khobane uses clay, metal, African fabrics, wool, glass beads, wooden beads, wire and even plastic to make her products.
“I’ve made earrings from toilet paper.”
She believes she has a niche client base because her accessories are loud and quirky.
“I’ve got clients in Zambia, Angola and South Africa. I also have people that order from the United Kingdom or from the United States of America once in a while. I also supply different shops.”
Khobane usually works alone, but sometimes employs one or two women whenever she had a large order.
Like many businesses, she was severely affected by the lockdown.
“I didn’t sell as much as I do, and the possibility that my business would close down was frightening. I was not able to send orders, but I was saved by my loyal customers who kept buying and ordering,” she said.
“This made me realise that my business is actually a luxury and not a (basic) need.”