These local businesses and talented people make some truly beautiful products right here in the Midlands.
The Green Needle
Where does The Green Needle and I intersect? The answer to the obvious question has determined the journey I find myself ‘meandering’ along. The Green Needle provides a range of beautiful, handmade, zero-waste products, forming part of the global zero-waste movement as they serve to replace modern-day disposable products.
It was while sitting around a crackling fire in the lounge of our home in Nottingham Road in the beautiful Natal Midlands that my daughter, Romy, came up with the name of the Green Needle. The name is a blending of the three elements which will always lie close to my heart: creativity with sewing and crocheting needles, a determination to look after our planet in a responsible way and reaching out and empowering ladies of our local communities.
Almost six years ago, I had to survive a severe blow to my health. The outpouring of love and support from the incredible community of White River (where we lived at the time), family and friends placed on my heart a renewed vision to give back. Creating The Green Needle has given me the opportunity to do just that. Slowly but surely, I have been able to reach out and offer women and men in the community the opportunity to use their talents and empower them to create special and bespoke enviro-friendly products. The cycle is repeated: their creativity is being fed, the beauty of our planet and its preservation is being reinforced, and the final products of 100% pure cotton or recycled and repurposed material are given back to the world, while the proceeds are able to put that little bit extra on their respective tables and support their extended families. The cycle is in motion.
I am very grateful to Annatoria, Sylvia, Sibi, Adelaide, Nonto, Catherene, Michael, Vina, Anna and Zarina for all that they do in helping me make The Green Needle an impactful and exciting (ad)venture. To think that it all began with a request to create a single, 100% cotton make-up remover wipe. It was and is about reimagining and rethinking.
The Green Needle is also about family – both immediate and extended – who all play a role from advice and approving ideas to physically creating. The Green Needle is so much more than the final 100% pure and/or biodegradable and recycled products. It is about ‘knitting, weaving or carving’ together the elements of my life which are meaningful to me, and it is now my turn to give back on so many levels. It is a privilege.
St Francis of Assisi’s words are meaningful to me and the Green Needle: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” The Green Needle has taught me what is possible.
082 362 3609
Bakery in the Skye Patisserie
Skye Payne started Bakery in the Skye Patisserie in the latter half of 2013. Her work experience at Anew Hotel, The Oyster Box, Capitol Caterers and Michaelhouse has made key contributions to Skye’s creativity and her successes. “ My idea to document my crafts online assisted me in building up a clientele, and over time Bakery in the Skye Patisserie was not just a page to store photos on anymore, but a small business growing in leaps and bounds in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands!” Skye speciases in a variety of custom-made cakes, high tea treats, desserts, gourmet homemade ice creams, breads and pastries. “When baking and decorating, I like to stick to original recipes, but throw in a twist or two so to make the product a true Bakery in the Skye Patisserie masterpiece.”
079 523 1011
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If you’re looking to get engaged, have a custom piece of jewellery commissioned or an inherited piece remodelled, give Leigh a call. LeaChi Jewellery is a supplier of beautiful diamonds, coloured gemstones and custom-manufactured fine jewellery. LeaChi specialises in platinum, yellow, rose and white gold, new jewellery pieces or the remodelling of old jewellery, and are also always happy to buy old, unwanted gold or sell gold as a commodity for clients looking for an investment. Owner and designer Leigh Clark Berry grew up in the Midlands and studied jewellery design and manufacture in Durban and Italy. Leigh is approachable, experienced and, very importantly, trustworthy and discreet. She sees clients by appointment only in a relaxed environment, often knowing what her clients want before they do. Dealing with Leigh is like a breath of fresh air and is always a pleasant experience. Her personal involvement with every LeaChi piece is what sets her business apart and why clients keep coming back. “I have an absolute love for people and know how much joy a beautifully crafted piece of jewellery brings,” she says.
083 635 3867
Gwenneth Art and Design
Gwenneth Art and Design was founded this year with an explorative and creative approach by Caitlin Aadnesgaard. Her goal is to create positive, understated art while exploring a new way of life after moving to Nottingham Road from Johannesburg. Originally a graphic designer, Caitlin created a shop to sell art in the form of digital files. The printable art can be downloaded and printed at home, or by using a professional printing service, and the physical prints just require a frame. It’s an easy way to get high-quality artwork from all over the world. Framing is also an option for people who prefer a finished product. “I started this shop after feeling burnt out and I want to use it as a creative outlet. I don’t want to define the shop or what I do, but rather explore multidisciplinary art and artworks and see where this goes. My growth has been a result of my Pinterest following and the fact that the work is easily accessible and reasonably priced for people is an added bonus.” A brand new range of products manufactured using Gwenneth Art designs will be launched onto the website soon and shipping will be available worldwide. Custom commissions are welcome.
Falconer Art Studio
A collaboration between South African artists, Falconer Art Studios create unique sculptural water features from bronze, using artisanal techniques and innovative design. The team recently installed this bespoke water feature in a home in Simbithi. Its owners wanted the calming sound of the water flowing and the carefully-balanced bowls to improve the feng shui of their home. Claire and Seth Falconer custom-designed and crafted this sculptural water feature in bronze in their Midlands studio. They create a diverse range of limited edition sculptures, water features and light fittings. They work closely with their clients to bring a unique artistic flair that reflects the tastes and values that matter most to their clients. Get in touch with Seth to chat about designing the perfect bespoke piece for your home.
Wattle & Daubb
With a passion for beautifully designed and handcrafted furniture, Wattle & Daubb create once-off statement furniture collectables. Their style is bold, minimalistic and timeless. “We carefully handcraft each piece with love and precision. These statement pieces are visually aesthetic and add a quintessential finish to an interior,” explains owner Robyn Channing.
Fatpig Smokehouse is a family-run business that started in 2008. “We ran through various markets, starting with the PMB Farmers’ Market and then ending with the Karkloof Farmers’ Market. Our products became popular and it became necessary to have a retail space. After searching for the right premises for a while, we were offered an amazing opportunity at our current premises at the Hilton train station,” explains owner Brad. All of their products are homemade and cured or processed the way their forefathers did it. Time and patience is the main ingredient. Fatpig Smokehouse makes a range of sausages, salami, bacon, hams and other cured products. “We also do pulled pork and smoked beef brisket as part of our offering. These products are smoked and cooked using local hardwoods,” says Brad. Their motto is, “Homemade is best made”.
Wood You Boards
Wood You Boards is a small business established on big dreams, a combination of childhood memories and inspirational trends of today. Offering something entirely unique, their chopping boards are not mass-produced, but instead carefully hand-crafted. They take pride in pairing the perfect hardwood – Rhodesian teak – with an all-natural oil wood stain. “We appreciate the natural colour and grain that is found in Rhodesian teak wood,” explains owner Aimee. To add to this, each board can also be custom engraved, giving them that extra special, personalised touch. Crafted with love is what each board represents and that is the standard with which this local business measures. “It’s the thought that counts, and our goal is to put a smile on the face of every person who receives a Wood You board.” Wood you like one too?
If you haven’t heard of moringa before, prepare to be amazed! This plant has a number of incredible health benefits for both humans and animals. Karrigen Moringa is distributing a wide range of moringa products, from teas and oils to capsules and animal supplements, right here in the Midlands. Some of the health benefits of moringa include strengthening the immune system, cleaning the body of toxins, supporting those with diabetes and osteoporosis, and assisting with lowering cholesterol, just to name a few. The benefits for animals, especially horses, include its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, aiding in their digestion, boosting their energy and performance, and improving their overall condition. With so much to offer, including one or two of Karrigen Moringa’s products into your diet or the diet of your animals is well worth it!
064 507 0787
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BirdSong Ceramics was started by Janette Nicholson on their smallholding in the lovely Birnamwood area in 2009. They work from their converted stables with a wonderful view over their own “Lake District” and the KZN Midlands, with the majestic Drakensberg in the distance. With the family pets for company, the horses grazing in the fields and the constant background music of birdsong, it is an inspiring setting for creativity. BirdSong Ceramics has a team of three friendly and hardworking staff who produce a huge amount of stock that Janette then checks and decorates before loading in the kiln and then finishing off, ready for packing and sale. From a largely wholesale beginning, supplying garden centres and gift shops around the country, BirdSong has now started holding open weekends at their property. These have proven very successful and allow them to showcase other fantastic SA made products, in addition to their own. “My mantra would be to stand firm for what works for you; listen, learn and be prepared to adjust when needed. Be reliable and honest and bring humanity and authenticity to what you do,” says Janette when speaking about her business. Keep a lookout for upcoming open weekends.
078 846 0261
Willowbridge Farming is a family-run business in the Wagondrift Valley, Estcourt. They provide high-quality products including free-range chickens and seasonal vegetables. “We aim to produce cruelty-free birds, which are raised with love, and an emphasis on stress-free living. We are involved in the growth of the chickens, processing, and delivery to ensure the highest quality products reach your table. Our vegetables are grown with a minimalist approach to chemicals and we use as many organic methods as possible,” explains owner Kirsten Alcock. “This includes companion planting, composting and mulching. Seedlings are grown in our own nursery so that we are able to control the development of the vegetables from the seed to harvest.” Their deboned, stuffed whole chicken from their new range is extremely popular and well worth a try! Kirsten’s advice for healthy living? “Be aware of what you are putting in your body – the choice is always yours. I’m a big believer in everything in moderation.”
083 225 2509
Hedgerow is a classical sleepwear and clothing range that prides itself on using excellent quality fabrics that are adorned with unique prints designed exclusively for Hedgerow. Their story goes back nearly 20 years to Kathy McKenzie’s inspirational journey through narrow lanes lined by rows of hedges and home to multitudes of cute creatures great and small. What started then was her vision to capture the gentle spirit of the English hedgerow in timeless clothing designs to delight and captivate children and parents. Like the enduring countryside, only high-quality fabrics would carry her original ideas in designs that capture fine detail and change like the seasons. Two decades on and the business is going from strength to strength, and while the journey continues, the vision remains rooted in the spirit of the countryside. “Classical, timeless style that can be appreciated and enjoyed for years to come,” says Kathy. Freerange and China Rose are the local Midlands stockists of this range.
Sign Me Up & Thread Bare Canvas
Sign Me Up was started in Mooi River in October 2019 by Jo Smith, after she spent 35 years in the International Air Express business. They offer a wide range of branding services, including indoor and outdoor signage, banners, labels, product stickers, magnetic stickers for cars and block mounted canvas prints. All of her products are made to order as per the customer’s specifications, and Jo often does deliveries herself, provided the signs fit in her car! With one other employee, they strive to offer fast, efficient, stress-free service to their clients. In June, Jo also started Thread Bare Canvas, due to customer demand and to provide easy-living canvas products. They make outdoor blinds, bakkie canopies, outdoor furniture covers, braai covers, cooler bags and a variety of weekend bags and holdalls. They also now make vertical hanging gardens for courtyards and small spaces and aim to have all of their products 100% South African made. “My strongest beliefs about creating a small business with longevity are to offer great customer service, be there, be reactive and build strong relationships, which I feel we are on the way to achieving,” says Jo.
083 458 2170
Shuttleworth Weaving is a small, family business that was established in 1976. Currently, they employ 17 staff, mostly rural Zulu women, who do all of the spinning, weaving and dyeing by hand. “We work off the grid to make one of a kind, bespoke, handcrafted rugs. We mostly work with mohair and wool but we also spin and weave polypropylene and are always experimenting with new weaves and mixing different fibres for exciting effects. Our main focus is on colour and texture, where we can match just about any colour required for custom pieces,” explains owner Rob. All of the materials that Shuttleworth Waving use are locally sourced, supporting local farmers, economy and trade. Their weaves are original and creatively constructed with both artistic value and price-quality ratio in mind. Their motto is, “Hand-woven excellence. Creative expertise. Design elegance.”
076 709 3049