Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair brings authentically African flair

Cassandra Twala, the fair's curator.
Cassandra Twala, the fair's curator.

The Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair has become synonymous with high quality design, paired with the best food and wine from across the country.

Over the years, the fair has seen a gradual change in representation, introducing, along with more diverse exhibitors, a government-supported initiative that allows exhibitors from rural areas to showcase their wares to a wider audience.

This year's ninth instalment is bringing a massive pop of colour as several exhibitors are creatives who have managed to find solutions that address and celebrate a number of issues affecting people of colour.

The curator behind the prestigious fair, Cassandra Twala, says that this year's theme, "A return to making", is important as it not only allows the exhibitors to showcase their handmade products, but "it's also a call to ignite our audiences to embrace their ability to create".

"On a personal note, I think in our highly digitised world, there is a yearning to go back to connecting with others and with ourselves," she says.

Twala was at the helm of finding the different exhibitors for the second year in a row.

"Getting new brands into the fair, was a key consideration, and we're excited to welcome a lot of new faces."

From skin products made for melanin-rich skin to nude coloured underwear for dark skin tones, we take a look at some of this year's exhibitors taking on different pursuits to proudly showcase authentically African solutions.

USO by African Dermal Science

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Dr Theo Mothoa-Frendo, pictured, is the brains behind skincare brand Uso. The brand, launched at the end of last year, developed off the need for a skincare range that addressed concerns prevalent and sometimes unique to those with dark skin tones.

"My mom, who is an avid skincare user, introduced me to skincare regimens at a young age and I have pretty much tried most brands in the market. However, I grew frustrated that every product I was using was not made specifically to deal with the specific skin concerns I experience as a person of a darker skin tone and living in the harsh African climate.

"My bathroom cabinet was dominated by foreign skincare brands made primarily for those living in the northern hemisphere climate.

"Our formulations are rooted in the sentiment of 'made in Africa', using high quality ingredients. We have sourced only the finest botanical ingredients and the most advanced, tested scientific ingredients throughout the world for our products, bringing to life a proudly African and truly international sentiment."

Gugu Intimates

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Founder Gugu Nkabinde started her business as a result of having a personal need for the product: underwear that catered for dark skin.

"I couldn't understand why - in a continent with billions of melanin-rich skin tones -I still could not find underwear that complemented my shade of skin. The narrative that I then felt needed to carry this product I created is what now fuels me every day, because I believe that brands help us form identities, and we certainly need more inclusive brands and products," she says.

Nkabinde, pictured, has always been a fan of the fair.

"I never imagined in my dreams that I would make something that would be worthy of showcasing amongst all these amazing brands. That's why I believe this platform is so important; to firstly be so inspired and then provided with such an amazing and well-put-together platform to show what you have made - is priceless.

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Suki Suki Naturals

Linda Gieskes has always had a love for creating her own beauty regimen through the use of natural ingredients, which is how she came to develop her own hair and skincare line.

"My passion for creating natural beauty products turned into profit once I started sharing my recipes with family and friends.

"The growth of the business has been an organic one, through various people loving the products and thus wanting to use them."

Gieskes, pictured, who is not a newcomer to the fair, having showcased since 2015, believes that developing countries should encourage artisanal activities in order to promote the economy.

"People are so creative and capable of producing quality handmade goods, that we should encourage a 'return to making' as one of the building blocks for boosting the economy via small businesses."

Image: Supplied

The Sanlam HmC takes place from tomorrow until Sunday at the Hyde Park Corner rooftop.

Additional reporting by Zola Zingithwa

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