Belinda Phofu found funemplyment in unemployment and is a creative gem. She tells us a bit about her baby, Style is Incalculable, and her journey into creative business.
1. What is SIIC and where did it all begin?
Belinda: SIIC, which is an acronym for Style Is InCalculable -is an alternative jewelery brand for your everyday quirky, creative enthusiasts. I began making jewellery in 2012, which was the year after I matriculated and couldn’t afford to go to varsity to the point where I ended up having to take 2 gap years.
At the time, taking everyday mundane object’s I would find lying around like buttons,pegs, safety pins, was just something I was doing to keep me busy. Seeing as I wasn’t having any luck finding a job. I went for the name SIIC because I noticed that whenever people would see my pieces for the first time, they would always say,
“aww B,this is so sick .” I came up with “Style Is InCalculable” , just to give the word meaning .
2. What inspired you to start capitalizing on your craft?
B: I noticed that there was a demand for my pieces, so I decided to start selling them in the hopes of making some pocket moeny – especially since I was having trouble finding a job . Things just started growing from there .
3. What has been the biggest lesson in your business?
B: I’ve always been intimated by the business aspect of things mainly because my strong point is and has always been creativity. I’ve had to learn and am still learning not to box myself in, understand that it’s okay to be scared. But, that I should understand that I’m capable and I shouldn’t doubt my capabilities.
4. Where do you want to take SIIC in the future?
B: My plan is to make SIIC a global brand that not only specializes in alternative jewellery, but in other art forms as well. Which is where Art Is Currency plays a huge role.
5. What is your biggest achievement so far?
B: Well, I will always consider curating the first installment of Art Is Currency, which took place on the January 30th this year, an achievement. I knew nothing about curating exhibitions and I had never collaborated with any artist before. For the exhibition I collaborated with 10 artists, which was stressful at times.
Executing my vision really left me feeling proud of myself!
Recently, I became one of founding members of TheHive Johburg, which is something that I’m really grateful for.
6. What kinds of collaborations have you done and would love to do?
B: The series of exhibitions that I curate titled Art Is Currency are actually aimed at promoting collaborations among creatives and showcasing how alternative jewelery can be found within different art forms. For each installment of Art Is Currency, I collaborate with different creatives and their task is to interpret my jewellery pieces through their craft. The collaborations I’ve done include collaborating with 10 graphic designer’s for the 1st instalment of Art Is Currency, each graphic designer had to interpret my jewellery pieces through Illustration. The next collaboration I’ll be doing will be for the 2nd instalment of Art Is Currency which will be aimed at promoting breast cancer awareness. It will be with graphic designer, David Tshabalala as well as StylaGang and together we’ll be using alternative jewelery, illustration and T-shirts design to promote breast cancer awareness .
I have a few other great collaborations lined up for next year as well. All will be revealed in due time.
7. Which is your favourite piece?
B: My favourite pieces are always the last piece’s I’ve made. Currently, my favourite would be the bolt earrings – I’ve literally been wearing them everyday since I made them.
8. What is it about random objects that makes you see beauty in them?
B: For me it boils down to having fun. I find that I have more fun by challenging myself or my creativity by making mundane objects that people discard into jewellery pieces.
9. What are your thoughts about the alternative jewellery market in SA?
B: The unfortunate thing about being an alternative artist (designer ,musician, etc.) is that the mere fact that you’re alternative means that you don’t have the majority buying your work because the majority are into all things mainstream. It’s very difficult for alternative artists to break into the industry and become as successful as mainstream artists. We have to work extra hard. I feel that the alternative jewellery market in South Africa needs for designers to look at themselves as entrepreneurs as well and not just creatives because at the end of the day, the focus should also be about growing the economy of our creative industry.
10. Name five black women that inspire you.
*Rurumai Rudo Musekiwa – who has actually become not only my mentor but my big sister
*Sarah Breedlove – who was the first ever self-made woman millionaire in America. Her work ethic as an entrepreneur is very admirable .
*Nonkululeko Nyembezi – Heita – who is the former CEO of the largest steel and mining company in the world.
Model & Image Edit: Nomvelo Chalumbira
Shot & Directed: Simbongile Ndlangisa