In January of this year I had a skype call with a woman called Julia in South Africa, we had been put in touch with each other by Rita from ‘Sonia’s Smile’ the fair trade shop in Haworth, West Yorkshire. Julia had been visiting the UK to promote Zimele - the organisation she works with as Craft Co-ordinator, had met Rita and explained she was looking for a UK based fair trade organisation to import and sell their beautiful handmade crafts, and Fair Grounds was mentioned in the conversation as a possible partner.

During my conversation with Julia she explained that Zimele is a Zulu word meaning “people stand on their own feet” and the organisation was founded in 2007 by Rosetta Stander, a fifth generation South African who realised there was poverty in the country, particularly in remote rural areas and wanted to enable communities of people to realise their self-worth and obtain self-sufficiency.

The Zimele model works to empower women by unlocking skills, resources, support systems and networks, and create new opportunities such as access to both local and International markets and links to government programmes. Currently around 3500 women from all 11 districts of KwaZulu-Natal are involved in a variety of activities including agriculture, welfare and enterprise.

Since February 2014, Fair Grounds have been working with members of the craft collective who design, create and sell beautiful beaded felt and shwe-shwe (traditional colourful patterned fabric) stationery, bags, decorations, homeware and jewellery items. This wide product range is proving to be very popular with both our wholesale and retail customers, and it is wonderful to know that in purchasing a Zimele Tea Cosy, Felt Necklace or Reindeer Christmas tree decoration you are helping both the individual artisans and their families and communities stand on their own feet.


Zimele products are currently available in our Sheffield shop but are COMING SOON to our webshop! 




Author: Nina Carter-Brown

(founder and managing director of Fair Grounds)