Collaborating with craft artists from all walks of Southern African life, piece takes their designs to the South African and International markets, using Fair Trade principles.
The continued focus of this team is to highlight exceptional work, using traditional inspiration with contemporary expression, thereby changing mindsets about local handmade products, and thus assisting in the development of sustainable micro and small enterprise.
The piece team has mentored a number of Southern African craft artists and producer groups in the development or refinement of their products to ensure that their output is suitable for the marketplace. In addition, they undertake product development and training with a business focus to develop micro and small enterprises; assisting with moving towards sustainable business practice.
In 2012, Eugenie and Beauty were chosen with 16 others from 5 African countries to participate in a handcraft exchange in New Delhi, India at the invitation of the Indian Government.
As a design team, Eugenie and Beauty have created collections for the finals of the Face of Africa live broadcast in Lagos in 2010; as well as commissioned pieces for celebrities such as Lira, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Princess Charlene of Monaco amongst others. Accessories from their collection have been used on the ramp in shows by numerous local and international designers; including David Tlale, Heni, Mataano Twins (New York), Mustapha Hassanali (Tanzania) and Laz Yanni; and have been featured in many magazines, both local and international. They count personalities such as Fern Mallis (New York Fashion Week) and Unathi Msengana, as their customers.
Eugenie Drakes founded piece in 2000 to showcase the variety and excellence of South African handmade items. Eugenie is acknowledged and respected as a specialist in the craft sector and has experience across all links in the value chain from market driven product development, production, wholesale, retail, trade shows both local and international. She is able to ride the spiral from working in remote rural areas to communicating with a high-end customer base both locally and abroad. Eugenie was a resource person at the Africa-India Summit in Ethiopia in 2011 and has consulted to the likes of the WK Kellogg Foundation, Technoserve, and SEDA (Small Enterprise Development Association).
Eugenie is on the Board of The Siyazisiza Trust and a Founder Member of the Southern Guild Design Foundation. She is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs-GIBS (Gordon Institute of Business Science) 10 000 woman Certificate programme and a current participant in the Vital Voices Lead Fellowship. In addition she is an enterprise mentor at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, Business and Arts South Africa, and The Passionate Professional; and has been invited as a mentor on the Cheri Blair Foundation Mentoring Women in Business programme.
Eugenie also commissioned pieces for Princess Charlene of Monaco, Elton John, Fern Mallis (Founder NY Fashion Week),Michele Obama, Oprah Winfrey and local artists such as Lira and Unathi Msingana.
For the latest news from Eugenie Drakes visit eugeniedrakes.com
Beauty Maswanganyi was born in Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga. She was very influenced by her grandmother, who taught her to do beadwork when she was very young and she has continued and grown in this medium; taking great pride in bringing these ancient techniques to fruition in modern pieces. In addition to her excellent beading skills and flair for design; she is able to interpret concepts, and has a good eye for colour and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. In 1997 Beauty came to Johannesburg with her husband and 3 young children. In order to earn an income she started selling fried fish at the taxi ranks, where she met an Ndebele woman who taught her to make beaded Ndebele dolls. They sold these dolls to a shop, and in 2000 she joined their staff.
When she was retrenched in 2002, she joined Eugenie at piece as a beadworker and over the years has learned and worked her way up to her current position managing the store. Apart from designing and making custom orders in the store, Beauty mentors and does product development and training for other crafters. She has a dedicated following of loyal customers and has made custom items for a number of prominent local and international customers.
Beauty has raised and educated her children with her gift, and has blessed the world with her creations. In 2005 Beauty was nominated as an Emerging Creative and was invited to participate in the Design Indaba Expo in Cape Town which was a wonderful learning experience for her. In 2010 Beauty and Eugenie designed a jewellery collection for the Face of Africa model search final live Broadcast from Nigeria and pieces from this collection have been exhibited locally and abroad. In September 2011, piece was nominated for an African Fashion International African Award for accessory design for their work. In 2012, Beauty was 1 of 18 crafters from 5 African countries that was invited to a craft exchange in New Delhi, India.
Thabo Nkuna hails from Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga, and joined the team as an intern in 2013. She has been trained in the art of beading by Beauty, as well as learning basic frontline skills. She assists in the store, as well as with beadwork. In order to upskill, she attends Second Language English conversation lessons. Thabo is a single mother of two boys and works on a part time basis in the store.