I’m always on the lookout for beautiful local brands that inspire me. Magdel and her partner are the creatives behind Uzuri, a small Stellenbosch based design studio set on making beautiful, conscious products that are rooted in simplicity and quality. I’ve recently had the pleasure of exhibiting at a market with them, and asked them if they would be willing to answer a few questions for a Brand Crush Collab feature. Lucky me, I also got to wear some of their lovely pieces (thanks Emmajanenation for the lovely pics)! Here’s what they had to say:
Please tell me a bit more about the inspiration behind your brand and products.
Our story started in 1999 – we were both grade 8 at the same small town high-school. Ever since then, we had a collective dream to create beautiful things, but in our own way + on our own terms: products which were mindfully selected by the consumer, which could stand the test of time and thwart the culture of continuous consumerism. Our shoes are crafted by a small team and therefore quantities remain limited and exclusive.aWe design shoes we would love to have as staples in our own closets ? All shoes are sampled before production & durability must rival beauty, always. The men and women who craft our shoes are the crowning glory of Uzuri – the wisdom, the joy, the resilience, the craftsmanship + the beauty they bring to this process is the heartbeat behind all we do.
What about your brand makes you unique?
I believe that everyone has something unique to offer. My sister left this quote (by dr Seuss) stuck to my door when I was going through a challenging time a couple of years ago: Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. We simply do what we have set out to do, to the best of our ability, with all our hearts + unwavering faith, but on our own terms. We are not competing with a world that promotes bigger, better, faster. We are simply living our dream + it has proved to be exquisite thus far.
Who is your Uzuri girl? Who loves your products?
A lady who carries within her a continent of dreams and hopes and ideals. Dreamers + do-ers, mothers + daughters + sisters and lovers and everyone who believes in this country, in its people and its diversity. Conscious buyers who care about the hands who cradled the products they choose to wear. Women of substance, women with vision + who’s hearts are filled with bravery + boldness. We were raised by strong mothers, we are surrounded by legendary sisters & friends – we want to clothe all of them.
Uzuri is your sideline business. How do you manage to run a business while having a full-time job, and maintain a work-life balance?
Sometimes there is no work-life balance. Sometimes our husbands pack orders + tag products + do the washing. Uzuri would not have been possible without them. They are legendary men with two kickass jobs of their own, but they have not once come home too tired to do what needs to be done in order for us to pursue this dream.
From the onset, there has been one non-negotiable rules: Uzuri is never to be prioritised over our husbands/families or our friendship. This means (sometimes) pulling in the reins when the world screams bigger and better and faster, but Uzuri is ours + we are proud of the holistic way in which it has bloomed.
What are the 3 greatest attributes that you need to be a happy and successful creative entrepreneur?
1. There should be a purpose behind your brand. For Uzuri, it is the jobs we create, the incredible people we get to share this journey with.
2. Do not compare yourself. You are not in a race. You are writing your own life story.3. As clichéd as it might sound: surround yourself with good people. Brave + sincere visionaries who are true to themselves.
What has been your greatest struggle in your business so far?
The precarious act of balancing our lives + our dreams. Something always has to give – and slowing down, only pursuing the dreams that stir our hearts, and learning when to say no, has proved to be the steepest learning curve.
Do you have any advice for people out there that would like to launch their own creative business?
Life is short & your story is your own to write. Do what makes your soul sing. We are not pro’s + we do not have all the answers. We are simply following our hearts one step at a time and thus far it has proved to be an incredible adventure.