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Nuturing tradition

On meeting Maxine Morgado, it is clear she is someone who cares – about animals, people and community.

During the national Covid lockdown in 2020, Maxine began her journey with two women, Jabu and Slindile, who were struggling with health issues and were unable to return to work due to restrictions at the time. As an animal lover, and having always appreciated beadwork, she had the idea to assist the women to earn an income from home and combine her passions to create hand-crafted pet accessories. And so began Siya Hamba, a project that uplifted women and celebrated and preserved the heritage of Zulu beadwork.

The three women leant on knowledge from the community and taught themselves how to bead with hand-made looms. Now, three years later, the passion project has turned into a small business that supports five women who work from home, as well as a studio in Shaka’s Rock. “It’s a culture that isn’t often celebrated, and Zulu beadwork has so much heritage to it,” explains Maxine. “To be able to preserve that is something very special.”

Maxine says she has been drawn to beadwork because of its ability to hold so many beautiful stories. The team is always trying to think of new designs that will reflect meaning, or simply spark joy for people, and the range currently includes collars and leashes for dogs, as well as brow bands for horses and belts for people – “so you can match your animal”, Maxine laughs.

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She has loved learning the art of beading, and says that the business has created meaningful connections for her. “There is such a beautiful dog community in KZN. Everyone is so supportive of what we do, and it’s heart-warming to see how much people love their animals.” Her own dogs, Daisy and Diego, remain an important part of what she does, and often draw attention in their beaded collars. “Our dogs motivated us during lockdown. They kept us sane and happy. The highlight of our day is taking them for a walk,” she says.

Maxine and her team try to support as many local suppliers as they can, sourcing most of their materials from KZN. “Local production is something we all have to hone in on and support and encourage,” she says. “It’s where all the magic is.” They also train women where they can, working with communities in Shaka’s Head and the Valley of 1000 Hills. And, as passionate animal lovers, part of the proceeds of all sales go to animal rescue organisations in and around our community, including Project Dog and Sables Creatures.

Details: www.siya-hamba.com, @siya.hamba

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