The beating heart of Zulucow is the wonderful team of talented Zulu ladies. The craftswomen who craft all Zulucow’s handmade products including cowhide bags, and belts, in rural South Africa.
I have worked with them for the last 10 years developing new handbags including the brand new sustainable fringed bag and our ethically made door stops amongst other things. In a nutshell, the Zulu ladies are what mean the most to me. These women have very little. Most of them are single mothers, abandoned by men, supporting 4 or 5 children, as well as parents and extended family. They rely on these jobs to “put food on the table” and educate their children.
By buying these beautiful handmade products from Zulucow you are supporting women; allowing creativity; the learning of skills and South Africa. It is in my blood.
When you purchase any of our natural leather and cowhide pieces, what are you actually buying? A beautiful, utterly unique, lovingly handmade item, ethically sourced from rural KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa? Yes. A handmade product that proudly bears and celebrates the distinctive, exquisite patterning of the beloved Nguni cattle that roam the province’s hills? Absolutely.
And yet, you’re buying so much more than that.
Creating sustainable employment
When you invest in a Zulucow piece, you are helping to create sustainable employment. In a country where the unemployment rate is way over 50 per cent. It is even far worse now due to the devastating effects of Covid-19.
By buying one of Zulucow’s handmade products, you are helping to make a difference. Not only in the lives of Thandi Khoza (51), Gcinile Ntombela (41), Nellie Majozi (39), Bheki Ndlovu (40) and Nomzamo Nqolwana (28), who all work for Zulucow, but in the lives of their extended families and communities, too. You are helping to fight poverty.
This is how each Zulucow product comes into being: the striking Nguni hides are sustainably sourced as a byproduct of the meat industry – nothing goes to waste (unlike some commercial ranches in other parts of the world, that produce cheap hides).
Every cow is selectively bred, lauded for its remarkable beauty. And their hides, which have held a significant role in traditional Zulu culture for centuries, are now adding value to these small-scale farmers.
Each hide that makes its way into the Zulucow workshop, situated on the outskirts of a small farming town, has been carefully selected. All pieces are then traced, cut and assembled by hand. In fact, these products are as hand-made by our team as you can get!
Bheki does most of the cutting, while Thandi, Nomzamo, Nellie and Gcinile do the sewing. It is a culmination of expert traditional skills and modern-day craftsmanship.
After they have put the product together, they check the quality, clean it, and then Nellie packs it. And then out into the world, it goes, making its way to an international customer base. Each Zulucow piece is an individual work of art. Each product has a story to tell, carrying with it not only a tactile beauty that speaks to its provenance but the team’s 10 years of learning and skills development. The work of their hands and hearts, their hopes and aspirations, thier striving for a better life for themselves and future generations.
And that, all of that, is what you’re actually buying.
Isn’t that a product worth treasuring?