Garbage To Some, Money To Her

Simphiwe Mushabi
Simphiwe Mushabi

JWANENG: An adage, ‘one man’s poison is another man’s food’ truly subscribes to Siphiwe Mushabi whose Midas Touch, turns discarded pieces of paper into sought-after jewellery.

With the paper, Mushabi, 56, expertly crafts beautiful earrings, bracelets and necklaces which make men swoon when the wearer passes by.

Originally from Mosojane village in the north east, Mushabi is busy making waves, ironically, in Jwaneng, the land of gems, with her little creations.

Here, Mushabi’s artistry competes favourably with her entreprenurial spirit. Having completed her course in fashion designing at Jwaneng Technical College in 1989, Mushabi started her fashion designing business straight away. But it was not until 2014 when the idea of turning waste paper into admirable pieces of jewellery took root.

Apparently, that was when the realisation of her own creativity hit her like an unexpected lightening bolt. She also felt she needed to do her part to keep the environment clean, a great motivator to start the business. Mushabi uses mostly coloured papers like the supermarkets’ specials or sale pamphlets  and magazines to create her jewellery.

Mutshabi learnt the craft from a woman in Mochudi, who taught her how to design, cut and create a set of jewellery and within a week she was able to create a set for herself. She uses the paper, glue and vanishes to make it shiny and attractive.

Mushabi is well-known around Jwaneng especially where she resides in Mogale ward. In most cases, client take their  waste paper to her house. Except for a few individuals who are always trying to negotiate prices down, Mushabi is a happy woman as she points out that the business is brisk.

“People like cheap things, but I try as much as possible to meet the market demands, at the same time balancing the cost of labour,” she explained.

Mushabi’s products are fast moving items that attract customers with their uniqueness and creativity.  Government came to her rescue with the poverty eradication programme who helped her procure some beads to blend with the waste paper to further enhance the snazziness.  She said through her business she has managed to put bread on the table for her family and equally keep her environment clean and safe to live in.

“I never leave a paper idling because I consider it cash,” she mused matter-of-factly as her fingers created the magical jewellery pieces.

 Mushabi said the community of Jwaneng and the council has been supportive. She is always invited to fairs and market days that give her business exposure. She is optimistic that with a large base of clientele, she can be able to create employment.   She called on Batswana, especially the youth to look beyond limited formal employment and consider waste as a source of income. She said one can earn a living through waste as long as they are creative and have the drive to succeed.

She is free-spirited and is willing to teach anybody who wants to venture into business of this nature.

Editor's Comment
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