Young Siya Ndungane took a big risk when she chose to pursue a childhood hobby over her academics. Ndungane is the owner of successful jewellery brand, Butter Jewellery, and it has been just over a month since she opened a first physical store for the brand.
Ndungane was a second year law student when her mother’s friend brought beadwork for her to sell at a pre-school. The items sold out within a week. This resulted to Ndungane going against parents’ expectations of becoming an attorney, to follow her passion for making beadwork.
“It did not make sense to me for someone to want to buy something I made sitting on a couch watching TV,” says Ndungane.
She started her journey by advertising her craft on social media and an order to purchase from media personality Claire Mawisa became a turning point in her career. Ndungane charged Mawisa R200 for a big necklace piece. Mawiza refused to pay, explaining that Ndungane’s craftwork was ‘amazing’ and worth more.
“She was the confidence booster that I needed because she made me believe that I could do this for a living,” says Ndungane.
Companies, event organisers and magazines started to approach Ndungane for her craft which meant more travelling across the country for the young entrepreneur. The use of rare stones such as gemstones and crystals makes her work valuable and her creations are designed according to her customers’ specifications.
“It is easier to price things when you are creating something that is on someone else’s imagination,” she says.
As she struggled to get funding whilst relying on a supportive family, Ndungane knew the importance of getting her own store, so she saved each penny she made from selling.
“I knew I had to open a store at some point because the biggest obstacle when you are creating custom made pieces is that people want to touch and know how it feels against their skin,” says Ndungane.
Although she has a naturally gifted skill, Ndungane believes she has to follow the ongoing trends across the continent and consider what appeals to women in order to keep her business going.
She came up with the name, Butter Jewellery, in honour of her brother who persuaded their mother to give Ndungane a chance to pursue her preferred career choice. Her brother used to call her ‘peanut butter’.