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Meet the Maker: Nikiwe Mathebula

We meet the Soweto-based young jewellry designer and manufacturer of her eponymous line

Where did it all begin, when did you become interested in jewelry design?

My love for jewellry design started in high school, at The National School of the Arts. I learned how to make jewellry at the age of 16 and In my first year of studying jeweljry design and manufacturing at the University of Johannesburg.  I knew that I had found my passion and that one day I would start my own company.

What are your ambitions currently with being a young designer in SA?

I want my company and work to be known for quality and great craftsmanship. I am focused on building a brand that will be one day be on the same level as the high-end international jewellry companies.

 What is the jewellry design industry in South Africa like?

The jewellry industry in South Africa is challenging, one has to be very strong, knowledgeable and patient in order to get to make it.

 What is your greatest achievement so far?

I can’t pin point a specific thing, I am proud of everything I have achieved from the moment I started my company to my jewellry range, every single achievement and step taken so far makes me very proud.

 

What does a typical day look like for someone who designs and make jewellry?

Well there’s more to it than designing and manufacturing, so it depend on what has to be done on a certain day, but lately I will say a typical day consists of dealing with marketing and branding aspect of the business and making decisions and plans regarding that.

You spent your early career working for bigger manufacturers, why did you decide to go independent?

 The decision to go independent was an easy one, ever since I could remember this is something I’ve always wanted. The process of putting the workshop together took a few years, which I started when I was at the University of Johannesburg and completed a few years later.

What are some one the most important lessons about running a business that you have learned?

That I will learn more from my mistakes than successes, that I have to be authentic, be patient, and lookout for the interest of the business in every decision I make.

What are the challenges you face on a day-to-day basis?

Getting our brand out without losing who were are, a jewellry company is very capital intensive, overcoming the day-to-day running of the business. Jewellry companies trade on long histories, that forms their story and credibility and we were established in 2016.

What do you wish people knew about being a woman in this industry?

There are challenges and stereotypes women face, but when you have invested years in your skill and your work speaks for itself all of that falls away and becomes irrelevant.

How do you hope to change the game?

I believe the game is changing already, as a young black female jeweller I aim to participate in that. 

Who or what inspires you to do what you do?

My love for jewellery, the joy I feel after completing a piece and finally seeing it on a client. That whole process completes me.

What do you know now that you wish you knew in your early 20s?

What I know now is that this business is cut throat and risky, and that it is necessary to look out for your own interest and make smart decisions that will in the long run benefit you and your interests, its something I learned the hard way that I wish I knew in my early 20s but I am glad that I know now.

What is the best advice you’ve ever heard?

We hear it all the time to be authentic, be yourself. It informs every decision I make regarding my brand.

Instagram: Nikiwe Mathebula Official 

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