Mother and daughter design team
Living with a hearing impairment and struggling to find employment inspired Rene Baron to become an entrepreneur.
Today, she is the proud owner of Baron Design House, a Cape Town based jewellery and accessories design and manufacturing business that she runs with her daughter Anusca Baron.
10 years ago, Rene used to buy and sell jewellery to her community and church members and when they started requesting for customized fashion accessories, she saw this as a business opportunity.
“I’m a creative and I decided to study jewellery making so I can create customized jewellery,” said Rene. Furthering her education gave her skills and confidence to boldly venture into entrepreneurship.
In 2019, Anusca joined her mother’s business because she was unable to continue studying fashion design due to financial constraints. Rene welcomed her daughter into the business because she needed the support.
Together they produce trendy and fashionable accessories; Anusca creates headbands, scrunchies and hair bonnets from cotton and silk fabrics and Rene creates earrings, pendants, and rings from brass and steel.
A large portion of society discriminates against people living with a disability and Rene constantly has to deal with prejudice towards her hearing impairment.
“I struggle to hear properly and because of this, people think I’m incompetent. It’s not easy dealing with this negative perception,” she said.
However, Rene is determined to be a positive role model for people living with a disability and she wants to prove that they too can run successful businesses.
A strong support system from her family especially her daughter makes it easier for her to overcome these challenges.
South Africa’s retailers import most of their fashion accessories from China and this makes is difficult for small design businesses to compete.
“We operate in a highly competitive sector and we are grateful that people are slowly starting to support local businesses more,” said Rene.
The growing trend of consumers specifically choosing to buy proudly South African products is helping small businesses grow. All of Baron Design House’s accessories are handmade from locally sourced materials.
Before the pandemic, the business used to generate a lot of revenue from selling at local art and craft markets around Cape Town.
“Attendance at markets has decreased because of the pandemic and we now sell our products from our online store and on social media,” said Anusca.
Door to door sales and selling at markets used to give them an opportunity to interact with their clients and get exposure however they hopeful they will be able to go back to selling at markets in future.
Working capital is a challenge for the business because selling luxury items like rings and bonnets does not generate consistent sales.
“We reinvest our profits into the business because we want to grow and create jobs for our community,” said Rene.
The high cost of jewellery making equipment is another challenge because the lack of high-end equipment limits Rene from creating intricate and diverse designs.
The future looks bright for this small design business that wants to create generational wealth.
Working with family members can be difficult but this mother and daughter team run a smooth operation because they each focus on their area of expertise.
To grow an inclusive and transformed economy, it’s important to also buy from businesses owned by people living a disability.