African Jacquard wants to celebrate the Business Women without whom the company would not be what it is today.
Catherine Moutet has been my first mentor. I had always admired the products by famous Moutet Tissages, so when African Jacquard was still a dream, I decided to try my luck and meet with her. She opened her door, welcomed me and selflessly shared her knowledge as a weaver, guiding me when I produced my first collection. A lady of trust with a great sense of humour who always makes me laugh when we Whatsapp each other.
Maranda Engelbrecht has been the first key person who made African Jacquard put a foot in the door. By herself, Maranda is a laboratory of living ideas. Creativity and thinking ahead are among the many aspects which are so exciting about working with her. During the first year of our existence, African Jacquard started to produce the napkins for Babbel at Babylonstoren. Then came the bespoke and now sought-after tea-towels. Our lasting collaboration is something I specially cherish.
When I met Nicky Fitzgerald in 2017, Angama Mara already existed. She wanted to propose customized products in the shop of the lodge and she gave African Jacquard carte blanche to bespoke a line of tea-towels, napkins and tog-bags. We had great pride to design, weave and manufacture for this prestigious resort. Nicky is a lady treating her staff, her suppliers, anyone surrounding her with a respect and rare consideration which cannot go unseen, which I admire and which sets an example.
The phone call I received from Simona Panayiotou three years ago started a beautiful relationship with Firehouse in Johannesburg, a superb window for African Jacquard in Gauteng. With her sister Roberta Caon, these two dynamic ladies are tireless business women and I love and value the way we collaborate, with professionalism and laughters.
2018 saw me starting to play with ethnic designs and weaving patterns. Shy and intimidated, I dared ask Eugénie Drakes to look and touch the first Bogolan we had woven. Her verdict was a first victory: “You’ve got something there”, “Go for it”! The opinion and acknowledgement of this renowned designer wiped my doubts and gave me the confidence to pursue my research.
In August 2018, African Jacquard was now part of the CDI NEXT18 Group, all sharing a stand at SARCDA where Lesley Carstens‘s attention was caught by our throws exhibited for the first time. And here I was a few days later, warmly welcomed by her, displaying my throws on trestles in the garden, soon to hear by this famous interior designer that African Jacquard would weave for a huge project in Botswana, Jao Camp. Lesley Carstens trusted me, gave me the opportunity to develop my potential and give shape to innovative ideas.
Pauline Mutlow noticed African Jacquard when we launched Bogolan throws. I felt really proud to be spotted by her sure eye, a victory when our linen caught her attention. Pauline is a trend setter passionate about earthy colors, sensitive to all the shades of black and grey. She loves to offer a variety of exclusive products to her clients and items are always presented in an irresistible way in her gem shop. It is a privilege to pop and show her the result of new ideas. When her reaction is an immediate OK, I know we’ve got something good, really good !
Cathy O’Clery has done a lot for South African Design: she created 100% Design, in which we took part on two occasions and once were elected “best object”. Cathy also organized, with Trevyn McGowan, the very interesting Business of Design, which was a well of inspiration and networking for me. Being noticed by this renown design influencer and curator can only be a good sign. So when Cathy asked me to create some tea-towels for the shop of the Zeitz Mocaa in 2018, I felt African Jacquard had won some professional recognition, our efforts and our resilience had been worth.
Sandrine Fanchette, co-owner of Roche-Bobois South Africa, is an example of tenacity and entrepreneurship for me. We met and developed a true friendship when Sandrine set a foot in this country in 2015 and settled with her family in Cape Town to open a first showroom. She challenged me to imagine and explore new routes. Sandrine’s business drive and leadership, added to her wit, and humour make me respect and love working with her.
Designing and weaving lines for Liz Biden has been a liberating experience in the possibility of mixing colours, playing with brightness. Weaving purple, pink and orange with red is out of traditional trends and defines perfectly this lady’s taste. Whether she has projects to be developed in cities or in the bush, her boldness approach has filled me with joy and allowed African Jacquard to obtain fabulous results to be proud of.
Clients can have a significant impact on how you push yourself, become daring and bold in the development of projects. Trevyn McGowan is definitely one of these. Thanks to her vision and limitless approach of creativity, African Jacquard has the opportunity to embark and achieve extravagant projects. By collaborating with Trevyn, we have managed to expand the limits of technology and reach a “Haute Couture” standard in weaving design.
Through their mentoring, influence, guidance, advice, inspiration, trust, belief… I am extremely thankful to the Business Women who have contributed to my growth as a professional in the textile industry. They may not always be aware of it, but this has allowed me to develop African Jacquard and raise this company at the rank it is today. Christine Daron