ZuluGal Retro

Beading to economic empowerment

Based in Durban, in the KwaZulu Natal region of South Africa, ZuluGal Retro was founded in 2014 by artist Nozipho Zulu. As both a creative and social enterprise, the group teaches young people with learning disabilities and special needs, art and craft skills that enable them to earn income from selling their work. Additionally, ZuluGal Retro provides a platform of exposure to different groups of self-employed crafters and artists (with and without disabilities) from around KwaZulu Natal.

Young beaders living in the rural Ndwedwe area of KwaZulu Natal produce beaded sunglasses. These artists initially learned traditional Zulu beading methods at home, taught by their mothers; they apply these skills and techniques to embellish frames of sunglasses. This process begins with purchased spectacle frames, embellished with colors and patterns inspired by traditional Zulu beading methods.

In an interview with the Swazi Observer, Natal commented, “This social enterprise was founded with the belief that the arts and craft industry has a potential to significantly contribute to towards economic empowerment and the improvement—of socio-economic well being of disadvantaged groups.”

Other items produced by the group include whimsical beaded animal sculptures, all handmade in galvanized wire, thread and glass beads. Wearable accessories include beaded hats, necklaces, cuffs, and belts.

In addition to producing the beaded items, ZuluGal recycles and upcycles flexible laminated packaging, transforming them into bags, purses, backpacks, and home decor items.

ZuluGal Retro has received funding from the National Arts Council of South Africa and Mandela Washington Fellowship social impacts grant. They are also part of the RedBull Amphiko Academy that has allowed them to travel to exhibitions and tradeshows outside of South Africa.

The International Folk Art Market will take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico from July 12-14, 2019. For more information please visit www.folkartmarket.org.This story first appeared in in IFAM Stories, to view please visit: http://ifamstories.org/artists/zulugal-retro/. For more information about ZuluGal Retro visit: https://zulugalretro.co.za.

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