Imagine walking to your dustbin to throw away a plastic you have just used and boom, a business idea emerges. This rings familiar to our compilation of businesses that are repurposing material to astounding works of art. Carving a place for upcycled aesthetics? These 5 black women-owned businesses dare you to recycle, but make it fashion.
Some of our nostalgic childhood memories include our grandmothers sewing old fabric pieces into wearable items for us, but how many of us actually considered how that was a form of recycling? Repurposing is certainly not a new phenomena. It has existed for generations and recently, its face has been redefined. Today, eco friendly fashion is the new form of environmental activism. Through fashion, creative entrepreneurs are reminding us that we can go green and still be trendy.
From solar powered backpacks made out of plastic, to suave leather creations and designer bags made out of old newspapers. There is an undeniable movement of environmental warriors who are pioneering a new age of eco-friendly entrepreneurship.
Take a look at these 5 local businesses whose products turn trash into treasure.
Concepts by Kaya
Self-confessed hoarder Kaya Mtengwane is a fashion stylist and jewelry designer who is popular for her striking earrings. Concepts by Kaya, a brand that Kaya describes as a “socio-economic movement for young people”, fuses art and fashion through the use of recycled material. The result: Bespoke garments and statement earrings that curate Kaya’s take on Afro-modernism. Colour and multi-use of different fabrics filter through Kaya’s creations that have seen her work being featured in the inaugural Design Indaba festival. Her work has been displayed at the young designer’s event, Xperience Fashion Lifestyle, and has established social upliftment identity through collaborative work with multiple NPO’s in the Western Cape.
Rethaka, a SeTswana term that directly translates to “we are fellows”, is certainly the core of Thato Kgathlanye’s business. Turning trash into treasure, the manufacturing of solar powered backpacks by Rethaka mark a wave of young entrepreneurs whose creations address issues prevalent to underprivileged communities. Having received multiple nods from the likes of Forbes Africa, Elle Magazine and SAB Foundation, Rethaka is continuously making great strides internationally. This urban styled backpack line is continuously partnering with corporates to produce large scale orders tailored for under resourced primary schools.
SAB Kickstart Competition alumni, Lungi Sokhulu, strictly uses newspaper in her accessories line. Sokhulu’s business, Headlines, is etching an earnest job creation trail for black women. About 20 women from Alexandra, Orange Farm and Masiphumelele found employment in this innovative accessory company that produces designer bags, amongst other things. With her current business doing well, Sokhulu has future plans of opening a skills centre to impart knowledge to the older generation.
Atyre is certainly a meaningful twist on how Reabetswe Ngwane uses tyres to create attire ready tote bags. Hailing from Rustenburg, Reabetswe’s elegant line of bags is a result of repurposed tyres transformed into a luxurious brand with an international following. “Ngwane seems to have literally reinvented the wheel turning tyre tubes to tote bags”, suggested Forbes Africa.
MaDlamini Sisters in Vintage
Launched by two sisters, Pumla and Ntoyonke Dlamini, the brand pays homage to the siblings’ love for their IsiZulu heritage. Their fashion line is a fuse of refashioned vintage wear and leather accessories adorned in popping colours. The quirky sisters, one a Nutritionist, another an Environmentalist by profession, feed their activism for the environment through their exquisite repurposed pieces, such as shoes, belts and bags. The two sisters carry out an artistic approach by posing their products in a rural context.