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Meet our CDI member: Bili Beadwear

30 November 2017   (0 Comments)
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Bili Beadwear handcrafts beaded removable bra straps  ̶  these comfortable ‘worn to be seen’ fashion accessories are made using a traditional African beading technique and are designed to replace standard bra straps with a colorful alternative. The straps are crafted by women based in Wallacedene, an informal housing settlement
in Cape Town, and in this way the business helps to uplift and empower previously disadvantaged women and enables them to raise their families. 

 

Bili Beadwear has recently received an order from the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) on the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town to supply their heritage-inspired beaded bra straps to the museum store. We caught up with CDI member and Bili Beadwear manager Lindsay Fisher to find out more about the business.

Can you tell us more about the opportunity you received to stock Zeitz MOCAA?

Zeitz MOCAA exhibits 21st Century art from Africa and its diaspora. Within this context, the museum shop showcases a  selection of art-led contemporary products such a books, prints, stationery, gifts, jewellery and fashion by leading design companies from South Africa, the African continent and beyond. We appreciate the opportunity to align with the Museum shop because we share in its vision of showcasing the richness of African art and applying it in an innovative manner within a respectful cultural exchange.  It brings us tremendous pleasure to share the rich diversity of South African women’s talent and skills via the Zeitz MOCAA shop.

 

What CDI services have you used and how did they help you develop your product or grow your business?

Eugene Newman, CDI Business Development Coordinator, has performed excellently as an experienced business consultant to Bili Beadwear, prompting a sound business structure, costing, strategy and performance analysis. He has also directed contact with Productivity SA who spent time with the Bili craft producers educating the team on efficiencies and waste management (materials and time).

Caragh Barwise, from the CDI Product Support programme, shared her professional insights and skills to develop the Bili logo, packaging and merchandising solutions.

David van Staden, also a CDI Product Support Coordinator, worked steadfastly to streamline product manufacturing. This included adapting our specific requirements to the wide offering of services at the CDI including enabling Bili to produce templates in Photoshop for the craft producers to use and with constructing furniture for show purposes. 

A 20 minute Product Review Panel facilitated by the CDI Market Support team helped me refine and form appropriate sales avenues.

A photographic course equipped us with the ability to shoot our own product. We used the facilities available at CDI offices in Barrack Street to shoot product for the web.

There are others who have shared their knowledge and expertise, apologies for not mentioning all by name.

What events/markets have you attended and what were the customer responses?

Bili has exhibited at the Kamers Vol Markets country-wide where the customers have been pleasantly surprised at our application of the craft. Initially people would ask whether our product is a bracelet or headpiece but when they realise that we craft removable bra straps, their eyes dance and their smiles break out. The response has been very rewarding.

Bili is also available at The Cellars – Hohenort Hotel, Constantia; The Marine (Hermanus) and The Plettenberg (Plettenberg Bay)

What are your plans for Bili Beadwear for 2018?

Bili Beadwear will continue building on the solid foundations established through strategic collaborations including a potential opportunity to develop an exclusive range for the Zeitz MOCAA Museum shop. 2018 will also pave the way for plans to export. Tourist destinations in Africa including lodges, boutique hotels and lingerie boutiques are on our radar.

Watch out for the launch of our new website (www.bilibeadwear.com) in 2018 which will allow our customers to have a say in their own unique design or colour combinations.

 

What does your typical customer look like?

Bili Beadwear straps appeal mainly to modern contemporary women between ages 15-55 years. These women seek to improve the lives of those around them and to build towards the bright future of South Africa. They are well informed with an appreciation towards the arts and culture, aesthetics and good communication. Value is derived for these women by knowing that they support African fashion that is true to our country’s heritage and empowers the disadvantaged women in our land.

Our customers form part of our colourful ‘weave’. Together, there is strength and unity. A man or woman is as strong as the community from which he or she belongs and the community gets its strength from the individual man or woman.  

Each bead represents an individual. As with the straps, each bead is specially woven together to result in a beautiful end product which represents the wonderful potential South Africa holds when we stand united.

Would you recommend the CDI to other entrepreneurs/businesses?

If you have an ambitious attitude to driving your start-up business, the will to work hard and have a desire to grow, then the CDI is a definite place to start. They provide you with the invaluable opportunity to give your idea “wings to fly”.

It is with an immensely grateful heart as I think over the support and direction Bili Beadwear has received from the CDI. We have belonged to a team of people who have covered our back and wanted to see us succeed as much as we have wanted to. To us at Bili, we have experienced the CDI as an invaluable gift as they have armed us with the tools and confidence to “go and shoot the lights out!”  

Contact Details

 

Email address: lindsay@bilibeadwear.com

Website: www.bilibeadwear.com (coming soon)

Instagram: @bili_beadwear


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