SERENDIPITY: A ten minute crash course that changed my life

By By Dorcas Mhungu
October 2010
WHEN Ilse Eiseb accompanied her husband to Cape Town on a working trip, little did she know that the trip would unravel a talent that was lying dormant inside her for many years.

The modest but vibrant Eiseb is blossoming and poised for greater heights after discovering a talent in beadwork and doing a ten minute crash course at a coffee outlet in Cape Town. Eiseb makes and sells beautiful earrings, bracelets and necklaces irresistible to many. For someone who learnt the art in such a short time, the artistry displayed in her works is amazing.

The story behind IIse’s discovery began in 2007 when her husband asked his superiors to go to Cape Town on a three week working trip with his family. She was pregnant with her second child at the time. While in Cape Town, she would be left alone at home whenever her husband left for work until one day when she decided to go on a shopping trip to Somerset West where she entered a popular coffee shop that sold beads and antique aluminium kitchen items.

“The beads drew my attention and I went over to have a closer look. It was the most amazing beadwork I had ever seen,” she narrates. After making some enquiries on how and where she could learn the art, the sales lady offered to give her a crash course and said she would only spare her ten minutes. So in ten minutes Eiseb had graduated on making earrings and bracelets that have today become a hit in Windhoek and bolstered her source of income. “At the end of that day, my husband came home and was surprised to see the pretty pairs of earrings that I had made. It’s like the whole idea was just in me, inborn.”

Eiseb grew up wanting to be an architect, but the dream was never fulfilled because of financial constraints. After matriculating at Cosmos High School, she worked for a number of companies which include Edgars, Mr. Price Forbes Namibia and Meatco, but this is not where her heart was. Things changed when she saw the beadwork in Cape Town and she played along her instincts.

Back home at the end of the working trip, Eiseb was raring to have a go at her new found talent and went looking for shops that sold beads so that she could start to make jewellery. At a shop that sold beads in Windhoek she was told to go to China Town where beads were varied and cheaper. That was the beginning of her artistic career.

Since then, Eiseb has etched a definite path that will propel her to greater heights, judging by the pace at which her popularity has spread and the rate at which orders have gathered momentum.

Her earrings range from a modest R5 a pair to R80 for a set that comprises earrings, a bracelet and necklace. The low mark-up and high turn-over is the winning recipe that Eiseb has cooked up. She started by exhibiting at church bazaars, and took part in the National Youth Week convention in Keetmanshoop (which Eiseb describes as awesome).These intensified her zeal to work harder and gain more confidence. This year she exhibited for the first time at the Ongwediva Trade Fair, a move which has charted new heights for her. She was fortunate to have her stall paid for by a corporate who prefers to remain anonymous. At the Ongwediva Fair, she clinched a big order for a businessman who trades in Ondangwa and Oshikango that she is busy working on. All the stock she took to the trade fair was sold out.

The selfless Eiseb has started teaching others how to make earrings. While selling her product at a primary school in Windhoek, she was invited by a Home Ecology teacher at Khomasdal Primary School to teach pupils how to make bracelets.

“You should have seen how the girls were thrilled with their work at the end of the training session,” Ilse Eiseb remarks. Eiseb is proud of her work and is thankful to the Almighty for the success and in-roads that she has made so far. She attributes her success to the biblical scripture, 1 Chronicles 29 verse 14 that says, “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”

Indeed she is thriving from proceeds of a talent that calls for the dexterity of her hands. Plans for the future include starting a training facility with a set-up similar to the Cape Town outlet where she unearthed her talent. “I also want to work with old people because they have a lot of talent and handmade articles and provide a point of sale for them.”

It is also Eiseb’s wish to bring the Cape Town idea of an outlet to Khomasdal in Windhoek. “Because everyone wants to take business ventures to Katutura leaving us here in Khomasdal,” she says.

To boost her knowledge of proper business management, Eiseb is currently doing a six month entrepreneurship SME course at the Polytechnic of Namibia, through the Nedbank Social Economic Venture. A mother of two, her advice to fellow Namibians is: “Don’t let life’s circumstances let your personal dreams die because you never know what God has in store for you.” PF