Kipepeo – Jewellery from Waste Fabric and Thrift Garments
“I have always been a sentimental person and I find it hard to throw away old clothes. It also bothered me each time I bought jewellery and there were so many identical pieces so I decided to make my own unique jewellery from old garments.” – explains Michelle Rutendo Sibongile Maphosa the founder of Kipepeo.
Michelle is a civil engineer with a passion for art and crafts. She opened up on her fascination with creating beautiful pieces of jewelry from all sorts of recycled materials. This all started in 2017, when Michelle had just completed her studies at the National University of Science and Technology. Suddenly, she had more time to make a variety of pieces for herself.
“While on a family trip to Nyanga, I noticed a beautiful curio shop next to the Rhodes museum and immediately got the curator’s contact details”, – recalls Michelle.
Since 2017, Michelle has been supplying the curio shop in Nyanga with some of her pieces. The bubbly creative speaks on how Kipepeo allows her to combine her love for nature, the environment with her taste for the finer things in life. She is driven by her fascination with how pieces of material that would otherwise have been thrown away are converted into a beautiful piece of jewellery that can bring warmth as a gift to a loved one.
The biggest challenge for Michelle was making people appreciate waste as a resource which can be used to create products of significant monetary value. She admits that many times when art pieces are made from waste materials, they lack a good finish, which is why she has dedicated the past few years to create her art.
“Since 2017 I improved so much in my work and I don’t even want to look at the pieces that I used to make when I started. I don’t want the buyer to feel that they are buying waste material so my pieces must have an excellent finish”, says Michelle.
In an effort to perfect her craft, Michelle has taken advantage of various art and crafts fairs to not only market her work but also to solicit feedback from other creatives. In future, she would like to be able to design pieces for showcasing at fashion shows, and also to create more income streams by supplying more curio shops all over the country.
“I have a strong desire to transfer my skills by conducting a training for women and girls from various social backgrounds and to empower them to follow their dream.” – concludes Michelle