Philippa Spark

Philippa French

What does your company do?

I work with a team of single mothers who live in and around Durban, South Africa. We design and produce bespoke beaded accessories, using only the best quality glass beads. The aim of my/our business is to take each and every artisan who works with me from a position of mere survival to a position of comfortable living with zero hunger. It is my aim for my team to be able to educate their children and have houses made of bricks and mortar instead of their current tin shacks. It is also my aim that they should be able to have houses with running water and electricity. Every single beaded piece that is designed and produced is a "wearable work of art". Our ultimate aim is to one day open a store in London, followed by Paris, Milan and New York - a way of ensuring my team is constantly kept in work and successful. My belief for my business is "fashion through philanthropy, may you rise by lifting others."

What is your biggest success?

We supplied Princess Charlene of Monaco with 480 beaded pieces for one of her gala banquets - 280 beaded proteas and 200 beaded cuff bracelets with the wording Je T'aime on them. This was a major accolade for us - not only did it provide much needed work for a huge team of crafters for many months, it also gave the team a huge amount of recognition and made them so proud of their achievements. We were also particularly happy to have made Princess Charlene proud. In January this year/2024, we supplied 100 beaded bracelets to the top 100 businessmen and businesswomen at Davos in Switzerland in January. This too was an immensely proud time for us, and helped the crafter to get through the stresses of "back to school" in January with ease.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Customers expecting us to be able to produce quickly/like a factory. As every single item is hand crafted, some pieces, like our beaded Easter eggs for example, can take up to two days to make. When we get orders in, the largest challenge is to make customers understand that our goods are not factory produced, that it is the work of a pair of hands that produces these pieces, and as such, there needs to be fair lead time for their goods purchased. I do manage expectations from the beginning, and often over estimate when items will be ready by, so that we are able to deliver earlier than expected.