We are an exceptionally creative country, and you see evidence of this at most major intersections… Hawkers selling all kinds of beautiful hand-crafted beaded items, in ever-changing shapes, sizes and designs.  Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, though, and it’s hard to make a spot-decision when you’re faced with competing traders, the tricky bargaining process and an impending traffic light change.

It’s also now technically illegal for informal traders to be there in the first place, which makes it very difficult for these itinerant artists to make their (honest) living.  I’m sure there must be some good reasons for banning street hawkers, but it really does seem like a ridiculous waste of police resources, when they have so many bigger problems on their plate.  Not only that, they’re effectively making criminals out of these entrepreneurs who are putting in effort and time to create something beautiful, rather than resorting to less savoury activities.

So, where else can they sell their beautiful creations and still make living, without getting raided by police and having their goods confiscated on a regular basis?  We have quite a few craft markets, but they’re not on every day, and there aren’t really enough to allow the traders to spread out and not have to compete too directly with one another.  Markets aren’t likely to work – they simply don’t reach enough people.

local craft in the mother city

But now someone has come up with an elegant solution: the Mother City Craft Collective, an online craft collective, where you can view and purchase your bead- or wire-works online, and have it delivered right to your door!   An online market is far wider-reaching, and can cater not only to locals, but to the international buyer as well.

The Mother City Craft Collective (is) an online outlet for the arts and crafts that are being sold at the traffic lights in Newlands. The goal of the project is to drum up enough sales online so that these guys don’t have to sell their goods at the traffic lights anymore.

We’ve started the project with no capital or funding, simply volunteering our time and expertise…

Our website is now up as you see and we are showcasing some of the wares. We’ve also expanded our collective from 3 to 6 people, and as soon as sales pick up, we’d like to expand this further.

It’s a slow start when you aren’t throwing money at a project like this, so it’s taking time to drum up sales and the guys are still having to support themselves by working at the traffic lights, and still taking the risks everyday of being arrested and having their goods confiscated.

There’s already quite a wide selection of items on offer on the website – everything from those big wire sharks and longfin tuna to beaded wire flowers and, my favourite, the upside-down-trees: baobabs with beautiful bright berry-like beads.

I think this is an awesome initiative, and one that deserves support, so that it can grow and make room for more traders, providing a steady, reliable source of income for them and for their families.

www.mothercitycraftcollective.co.za

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