Jaqueline Burge of Rarity Handbags has won Entrepreneur of the Year at the Businesswomen's Association of South Africa (BWASA) Western Cape Regional Achiever Awards.
In addition, jewellery designer and manufacturer Katherine-Mary Pichulik has been selected as Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. These accolades follow Cape Craft & Design Institute (CCDI) executive director, Erica Elk's 2013 award for Social Entrepreneur of the Year.
The criteria for the prestigious BWASA awards are that the nominated business must be profitably run, woman-owned and have been trading for over five years. A panel of six experts judge nominations and the process is moderated and audited.
Rarity handbags are made in Cape Town from responsibly sourced leather and exported across the globe. The company has its own designer and pattern maker and has undertaken manufacturing in-house since 2001.
"Our philosophy is establishing niche markets for well-designed, quality products, made in African game, ostrich and Nguni leather," said Burge. "A strong belief in independent thought and innovation are the foundations of our success and growth. Our clients can expect excellent service with products delivered on time and to specification. Distinctive combinations of leathers and the contemporary interpretation of materials set us apart from our competitors."
Rarity has close links with the CCDI (set up in 2001 to support the economic sustainability of the Western Cape craft and design sector) as it's one of 20 enterprises selected for a five-year export promotion programme. The CCDI and the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), an agency of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs are running this.
In addition, with the support of the CCDI (which coordinates and manages export marketing opportunities sponsored by the dti), Rarity showed at Maison et Objet in France in 2013 and will do so again this year.
Delighted at her win, Burge said, "CCDI is an amazing institution, empowering and enabling enterprises of all sizes in all stages to achieve and maintain creative businesses. I advocate the merits of this amazing establishment at every opportunity."
Emerging Entrepreneur winner Katherine-Mary is a trained artist and patissier who started Pichulik after a trip around India. Travel, books, people and the intimate relationship women have with jewellery, as well as patterns, shapes, palettes, inspire her luxury line of bold, colourful jewellery. She will also be attending Maison et Objet in September with the CCDI.
"The CCDI provides an invaluable set of services to the company through access to skills development and international export platforms through trade fairs," she said.