In keeping with a worldwide trend towards the sourcing and developing of artisanal design and manufacture, Decorex SA has launched Craft Collective.
A unique showcase of handmade art, craft and design from around the country, Craft Collective will form part of Decorex Joburg in August 2013. There is also a possibility that an international partnership forged by Decorex SA's parent company Thebe Exhibitions could mean showcasing Craft Collective to the UK market later this year.
Behind the scenes, identifying and shepherding the crafters to Africa's largest décor, design and lifestyle exhibition is Princess Tsotetsi, a Thebe Exhibitions stalwart who feels deeply for those people whose lives she is changing by introducing them to the commercial world of décor and design.
Many of the exhibitors at Craft Collective are from rural South Africa and their foray into the big city and the world of exhibitions can be a scary one. It is Princess who meets them halfway and helps them and their businesses to reach full potential.
"I am incredibly passionate about the work that Decorex SA achieves through our craft initiatives," says Princess.
"In being showcased at Decorex SA, the crafters and their work are exposed to South Africa's interior décor and design community as well as international buyers scouting for original design. If there is talent there, it will be spotted."
Together with the exhibition platform, Decorex SA also facilitates commercial development training for the crafters - helping them to understand what it would take for their product to turn into a viable business.
"It's vitally important for both the crafters and Decorex SA that before any piece of craft finds its way onto the Craft Collective stand, that it is of a sufficiently high standard to make it in the commercial sense.
"The more than 50 000 visitors to Decorex Joburg are décor savvy and the very last thing we want to do is to present them with below standard curios," says Princess.
Her role includes identifying the potential of a particular crafter, to co-ordinate the expert panel of curators who give the final go-ahead for their participation and then to facilitate product and business development training with the relevant crafters.
Decorex SA stipulates that all the craft on exhibition must be 80% handmade and with the materials almost 100% of South African origin.
"The most rewarding part of my job is helping and advising these people - they are so humble yet some of the most creative people I have met," says Princess. She claims she herself has no creative talent at all. While she started working at Decorex SA many years ago as a receptionist, her skills in the business development area were soon identified and she has led the Decorex SA Craft department through various guises for the last six years. Decorex SA used to host and manage the SA Handmade Collection for the Department of Trade and Industry.
Princess says the important thing for anyone taking part in an exhibition to realise is that they are embarking upon a long-term relationship.
"You have to see the bigger picture and understand that you are not going to that exhibition only once. You have to be there every year so that visitors get used to your product, they get to know you and eventually they will return to look for you."
It is these relationships that Princess has helped to foster in developing Decorex SA's craft initiative and that will continue to drive her passion.
If you would like to exhibit as part of the Craft Collective, contact Princess at (011) 549-8300 or 079-094-8157 or email her on az.oc.gpet@ssecnirp