Local makers Hosea Matlou and Sandile Tsula have a lot in common. They both shifted career tracks, share an entrepreneurial spirit, are passionate about crafting wooden furniture, and are eco-conscious when it comes to their choice of materials.
They’re also two of the talented local artisans who’ll benefit from Pernod Ricard’s festive Phakamisa ispirit (lift the spirit) campaign.
The wine and spirits seller has invested R38m into this campaign which, in partnership with the Gauteng department of economic development (GDED), aims to uplift Mzansi’s makers and create up to 1,000 new jobs over the next five years.
We caught up with Matlou and Tsula to find out how the Phakamisa ispirit campaign will help them take their small businesses to the next level.
Paying it forward with Matlou
Matlou, 40, was set to become a qualified accountant when the world of contemporary visual art captured his heart. He excelled in this field, and 11 years ago turned his passion for creating into a furniture business in Tshwane called Hosea Studios.
“I fell in love with wood sculpting, especially working with pine and rustic wood, which has so much character — it has a story to tell,” says Matlou, who crafts his creations from timber reclaimed from demolished houses.
The artisan delights in sharing his passion for woodworking by training the youth at the Hatfield-based Reliable House: Harm Reduction Centre — a shelter that offers meals, medical care, social services and skills development opportunities to community members.
“Helping people from the centre is so fulfilling. It’s an opportunity for me to help teach people the formulas, calculations and techniques behind creating a piece of furniture and help them improve their lives,” he says.
Matlou also has a permanent employee in his workshop who, after five years of training, is now creating furniture on his own — an accomplishment that makes him exceptionally proud.
“I never want to stop creating opportunities for people because that also allows me to learn from them,” says Matlou. “I want to establish something for the people at Reliable House and try to help people in the community access the same opportunities as me.”
For Matlou to realise this dream, he will need additional equipment, workshop space, opportunities to market his wares online and training — all of which he’ll receive from participating in the Phakamisa ispirit campaign.
Dreaming big with Tsula
An electrician by trade, Tsula, 29, first discovered his passion for carpentry while working in the theatre. He originally made furniture from chipboard before discovering that upcycling wooden pallets was an easier, more affordable and eco-friendly option.
“I love working with this material because you can create anything and everything. When you cut it, it becomes an entirely new thing. It's a simple way of making something new out of something old,” says Tsula, whose business, Silanda Fresh, is based in Westonaria, Gauteng.
The artisan has big dreams for the future: he wants to see his furniture everywhere.
“I want my job and my skills to touch people and give everyone ‘all the feels’. I want to uplift my friends and help people grow up in a good-looking home,” he says. “That’s because a good start, starting with your environment, equates to a beautiful life.”
Joining the Phakamisa ispirit campaign means that Tsula will receive training to develop his skills and grow his business to become more successful. He'll also have access to an online platform to showcase and promote his wood pallet creations.
Get involved: How you can support the Phakamisa ispirit campaign
To contribute to the Phakamisa ispirit campaign, simply purchase a bottle from participating Pernod Ricard spirits brands this festive season: Jameson Select Reserve Irish whiskey, Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch whisky, The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve Single Malt Scotch whisky, Chivas Regal 12YO Blended Scotch whisky, or Beefeater London Dry gin.
Part of the proceeds will go towards uplifting Mzansi’s makers and, as an added bonus, you’ll also receive one of three complimentary gifts: a phone speaker amplifier, ice mould or lemon squeezer.
Visit ispirit.co.za to learn more about the Phakamisa ispirit campaign.
*This article was paid for by Pernod Ricard.