Take a look at the faces of the women on this page. What do you see? Strength, determination and pride — pride in the work they do and its impact on their families and community. In regions that once offered little economic opportunity, these South African women (mostly of the Xhosa tribe) have made an investment in the future by learning new skills and producing high-quality goods that connect their lives to yours. The beauty and uniqueness of the work they do tells a tale of the beauty and individuality of each of these women. Be Sweet invites you to become a part of this ongoing story. Roll over each image to learn a little bit about who is uniquely hand crafting and bringing a whole lot of love and life to our knits and accessories.
Kangelwa has a cheerful inner brightness that draws her to her favorite colors, orange and red, which she weaves and knits into patterns that evoke the warmth of the sun and of her personality. She spends a lot of time outside, whether it is enjoying the three-kilometer walk to and from work every day or playing netball with her 11-year-old son on the weekends.
Meet Sylvia. She and her husband have been working for the group that makes Be Sweet Bamboo, Bambino, and Cotton Candy for many years now and they are responsible for balling each and every strand of that yarn that is sold. She used to earn under minimum wage as a domestic worker on a farm and her husband is disabled which limits his abilities. They used to live in a shack but were granted a small house through government funding. This was a lucky break for them as well as finding out about an opportunity to earn some extra money working for a yarn lady. Now, they have work full time from home which saves on transport fees and they are earning more than they had ever imagined. They are slowly making improvements to their home and living their life long dream to send their daughter to post-secondary school. Their story is a beautiful one and Be Sweet is proud to be a part of it.
Nambisia is one of the super stars at the Mielie workshop in Cape Town. She is very adept at weaving Mielie bags. Each project is such a unique piece. The weaver brings love and life to the design character.
Thembisa is a super star. She is the mother of two and has worked for Be Sweet’s mohair artisan group for over four years. Her role at the workshop is balling, labeling and managing the continuously busy packing room. She says that she doesn’t have a favorite color … but she certainly has a great sense of color. This helps her to coordinate all of the mixed bags of yarn for our lovely striped shawls. Her cheerful and smiley disposition makes her one of the most likeable ladies on the job. Thanks Thembisa for all that you do!
Powerful 43-year-old Phumla brings wisdom to the team of hard-working women at Be Sweet’s mohair artisan group. While spinning her favorite yarn, lime colored Slubby Mohair, she gives advice to the younger women and tells them stories about raising her two daughters, the oldest is 16 years old. Phumla dedicates her weekends to spending time with her girls, taking them to church each Sunday in their best clothes and teaching them about local traditions, such as how to extract the lotion-like substance from plant roots that she wears in this photograph as sunscreen.
Meet Ntombisahki. She is a very shy lady but extremely talented and is one of the best crocheters in the workshop. She is our “go to” lady when there is a problem and is one of the few African women who speaks English. Ntombisahki is married but does not have children.