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Themba Lize

Themba is the Xhosa word for ‘hope’, an appropriate name for this talented artisan.

Themba Lize, who grew up in Thembisa, Johannesburg, inherited his love for this leatherwork from his father who was a laborer and repaired shoes to make ends meet and raise his family of 5 children. Themba only had one pair of shoes that were kept for church, therefore most of the time he went barefoot. One day he decided to make himself another pair of shoes.  He took one of his old shoes apart and copied the pattern.  From that point on, Themba was determined to always have more than one pair of shoes!

Hard work helped him finally purchase his first industrial sewing machine and the business was growing.  However in April, 2006 tragedy struck when a fire took all he had away from him, destroying his workshop, equipment, and supplies.

Picking up the pieces, he managed to get a temporary job until one of his old customers made a large order.  At the same time, another past customer offered him a new industrial sewing machine….. someone was looking down on Themba, he was off and running once again!

Shoes led to handbags. With hope of starting again, Themba moved with his wife and 4 year old daughter to La Motte Village, just outside Franschhoek, Western Cape, where he built this new workshop.   Damion and Julian, also pictured, have recently joined Themba to help him as he plans to increase his product line.

"Inspired by the ashes of my first workshop, when I look back I am proud that I did not give up hope."