An exclusive interview with co-founder Doron Shaltiel of Quazi Design, an Ethical Fashion label impacting social lives in Swaziland, South Africa.
By Simona Campli | Sustainability Advocate
Contributor at ETHIKHA | Ghana Fashion & Design Week
20th February 2015
What’s the story and who are the people behind Quazi Design label?
It was my itchy feet and heart for handcraft that brought me to Swaziland. And a chance to meet with local magazine owner Anthony van Rywswyck that saw Quazi Design grow out of an Everest of old magazines. I wanted to create employment and use my design background to make positive social change.
When Quazi Design adventure started and where?
It was founded in 2009 in Swaziland, Southern Africa, a country high in unemployment and with a good network of craft companies.
I looked to the local ladies to find my crafting team, and with scissors in hand and a vision in mind, we all started to cut and slice and tear and dice.
What was the concept or urge that pushed and inspired you to start the label?
After a product development internship with a local established handcraft company I was excited about the combination of craft, design and empowerment and wanted to take this further and start my own label.
What’s the authentic Quazi Design mark and its key aspects for success?
To change the perception of recycled goods one rolled-paper bead at a time, to use paper in an innovative way and show that waste magazines can be made into design led unique accessories. Our authentic mark is our creativity. Creativity can change the world.
How you manage to enhance positive impacts of your business and which type of sustainable aspects you follow and evaluate the most?
We are a founding member of SWIFT Swaziland fair trade business, and I am also a board member, helping to steer the organisation. We’re also advocate to pay artisans a living wage, and not a minimum government wage. All products are handmade and each artisan is employed full time with a contract, giving her job security.
All our paper is 100% waste magazines which we combine with brass craps, crushed recycled glass and locally carved jacaranda wood.
Why you think it’s important to promote a different type of fashion and what you think can really make the difference to promote success for the sustainable fashion revolution? In other words what do you think is working and what can be changed or improved in the general panorama of ethical and sustainable fashion?
I think the general public are becoming more aware of where their clothes and accessories come from, and this is shining a spotlight on brands that do not respect people and planet. In turn, ethical fashion is growing with up to date designs, a wide variety of brands and more choice for consumers. So I think we are on the right path and ethical fashion is shedding its old hippy or out-dated look and entering into a new exciting era.
“I don’t think we should follow trends but rather create clothes and accessories that are beautifully made, with love, by well-paid artisans, and by doing this we preserve hand craft and materials.”
I hope that our products show people that recycled paper jewellery can be design led, new, exciting, different, clever and beautiful!
—Doron Shaltiel is co-founder and director of Quazi Design, one-of-a- kind accessories label based in Swaziland.