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This designer is sharing Cape Flats memories through jewellery

by: Mandy Alexander - 24 November 2016

A Ring To It_Nov 2016_©MandyJAlexander-2Stacy Beukes (29) is a Cape Town-based jewellery designer, whose jewellery gives life to stories from her neighbourhood in the Cape Flats. Her jewellery creates a visual nostalgia of life in coloured communities like Grassy Park.

After Stacy finished her degree in jewellery design, all she wanted to do was empower others in her community by teaching them how to manufacture jewellery and give them the opportunity to better their lives. So in 2013 she started her business called A Ring To It in her parents’ home to realise this dream. “I used whatever money I had and tools from varsity, and started making a few small pieces and worked my way up,” she says.

“It’s not just about making pretty things. There’s a bigger picture”

“Sweets with the change” is a range inspired by the infamous corner shops in her community, where asking for “sweets with the change” is something many from the Cape Flats can identify with. What sets Stacy apart from many designers is her understanding of her impact in the industry and Cape Flats community. “It’s not just about making pretty things. There’s a bigger picture,” says Stacy.

Stories that would often be suppressed are now being heard by people from all over South Africa and abroad. “In a sense,” she says, “I’m selling my identity. I’m designing and making it.” Some of her pieces include “chewed bubblegum” pendants, “dummy” rings and suburb name tag necklaces. All representing her childhood memories.

RELATED: Being coloured in a black and white South Africa

“I wanted a career path that impacted other people”

Stacy says coming from a different background than all her classmates in university and studying on a bursary motivated her to use the opportunity she received to pay it forward. “I wanted a career path that impacted other people,” says Stacy. So far she has trained and employed one other person who had no previous jewellery making skills.

As someone who was not only creative at school but academic as well, she says she could have studied anything. “Although I was aware of the pressures in my community to become a doctor or accountant — professions that are recognised, I decided I would pursue art.” Stacy says the idea to pursue jewellery design became a reality when Stellenbosch University came to give a talk while she was attending classes at Frank Joubert Arts Centre — an initiative that provides visual arts workshops to previously disadvantaged schools. The University told us about bursaries they had on offer in jewellery design. “Jewellery design made sense to me. It had a technical component to it, and it’s very intricate. It had photography, and the elements of design that I wanted. It ticked all the boxes.”

A Ring To It_Nov 2016_©MandyJAlexander-6

Stacy’s range is stocked in Joburg and Cape Town shops

Now three years into her business, Stacy has created jewellery for all occasions, including engagement rings and even got commissioned pieces for an advertising campaign. She now stocks her jewellery at a variety of stores in Cape Town and Johannesburg and also sells through her online store.

She admits it hasn’t always been easy, but says she has never been afraid to ask questions. And when she didn’t know, she researched so she knew next time. Her advice to anyone who wants to start a business, is to have a good understanding of what’s important to them and translate that into business. “We can all be out here making money, but what are you actually contributing? I think that is what is important,” she says.

Photography: Mandy Alexander

This story was first published on Red Bull Amaphiko