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Early days and the marketing of Mapula Embroideries

30th May 2020

Mapula Embroideries took me on a long and enriching journey since its inception in 1991. I remember the first time when Karin Skawran, Mimi van der Merwe, Antoinette du Plessis and I went out to the Winterveld to meet the women and the Sisters at the Sisters of Mercy Centre, hoping that we could start some sort of craft at the centre that might evolve in an income generating project. Never did I, in my wildest dreams, think it would last for 29 years (Mapula Embroideries will be celebrating 30 years in 2021) and become an important embroidery trust, showcasing social, historical and political comments of the day and create a small income for the women. Never did I think that their work will be hanging in museums worldwide and appear in more than 15 publications.

There were times that we could not go into the Winterveld because of political unrest (before 1994) and service delivery riots (still ongoing), but we managed to work our way around it and got hold of the stock so that I could market and sell the Mapula products. Many times, in the early days, Mapula products were sold from my car boot as well as at craft markets all over the country.

I got to know the women and their beautiful embroideries over the years and I still get a huge thrill when a lovely wall hanging is presented to me. It still delights and I know it will never stop delighting people all over the world. My thanks to the women of Mapula Embroideries for such an enriching journey!

Janetje van der Merwe


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