Heartfelt's mission is to continually create employment for unemployed women in the rural community of Makapanstad - through the creation of unique contemporary African designs. Helping to empower not only the lives of these women, but also for the good of the community as a whole.
Heartfelt is a job creation and skills development project, using traditional hand craft skills to create heartfelt products designed predominantly out of felt and beading. What makes Heartfelt products so unique is that they bring together rural woman producers and designers to develop innovative, high-quality product lines that are responsive to local and international markets.
The ladies are given the opportunity to travel to urban centres to meet buyers, visit retail markets and connect with a larger context of taste, trend and consumption. In addition, The Heartfelt Project aims to ensure that these women can both continue to use their skills and earn a living wage for the rest of their lives.
Heartfelt’s aim is to build a sustainable workshop for the benefit of the community - called The Heartland. This will be a place where ladies can work, get fed, bring their children (crèche facilities) as well as a place which offers education (training courses in the evenings and on weekends) and health care facilities (including an on site nurse conducting weekly check-ups and AIDS testing), as well as offering employment for the local people through management positions, staffing, agriculture that teaches them how to grow their own crops, with the aim of eventually being subsistence farmers, producing all the materials needed to run the project successfully. The aim of The Heartland is to be a totally ‘green’ initiative.
Heartfelt's philosophy is to make each product out of love, fill it with hope and believe someone will find it and send even more love back to the heartfelt community. Every action can make a tiny difference. Lots of tiny differences can mean a lot of action.
The craft sector is seen by the government as a sustainable way to alleviate poverty. It is estimated to employ 1.2 million people and contribute a whopping R3.4-billion to the economy every year. It has been identified as a priority growth sector by national government and is viewed as vital to the inclusion of rural people into the economy.
The quality and range of products has improved markedly over the last 10 years, and happily, there is also a growing demand for craft in the local tourist market, increasingly in the local retail market and definitely in international markets. Craft as a productive activity is often seen as an effective means of creating sustainable livelihoods and nurturing small, medium and micro-enterprises. This is essentially because it has the unique potential to draw on existing cultural and human capital.