Simzi Crafts

Who We Are

Simzi Crafts is a fair trade vendor featuring ethically sourced, artisan-made products. With our own South African roots, we seek to empower African artisans by extending their products’ distribution and supporting sustainable income opportunities. We are committed to upholding the dignity of artisans, celebrating their cultural techniques and traditions, and bringing attention to social justice and human rights issues faced by their communities. 

How We Started

Simzi Craft is owned and operated by mother and daughter: Gillian & Pippa. Gillian, born in South Africa, moved to Canada 50 years ago. With her connections deeply rooted back home, she was driven to support and showcase the work of the women in Africa who worked hard to not only support their families, but create beautiful products. This inspired Gillian to import African crafts and start Simzi Crafts to support these hardworking artisans.

What Sets Us Apart

The United Nations estimates that almost 23.8 million people in Africa are living with HIV/AIDS and many of them do not have access to treatment. Women and children are highly vulnerable to HIV and AIDS due to unequal cultural, social, and economic status in society. Our artisans include women living with HIV, and many of the artisans assume the responsibility of caring for HIV orphans, the surviving children of extended family members who lost their battles to AIDS. Empowerment of women, as well as support for orphans and vulnerable children who were devastated by HIV/AIDS is our mission. By purchasing our products, you are helping them have access to regular health check-ups, family planning, treatment, counseling, and a sustainable income so they can care for themselves and their families.

How can you support Simzi Crafts?

During these challenging times, one of the best and easiest ways to support local businesses and artisans is through social media. Like them on Facebook @simzicrafts, and follow them on Instagram @simzi_crafts. If you’d like to purchase one of these baskets, email- simzicrafts@gmail.com

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Their Products

Simzi Crafts strives to showcase the beauty of their African roots with traditional hand woven African baskets. They offer two types of baskets:

Zulu Ukhamba baskets:

Zulu Ukhamba baskets were traditionally used instead of pottery for storing and transporting homemade beer and other liquids, and are often referred to Zulu beer baskets. They are usually bulb-shaped with rigid walls, a strong and tight weave, and a snug-fitting lid. These baskets are hand-woven from local wetland grass and ilala palm leaves, and are dyed with extracts from leaves, roots, wood ash, and other natural materials found locally. Traditionally, these baskets are crafted by Zulu women who are grandmothers looking after their grandchildren as their parents have died of aids. These ilala palm baskets are their only source of income. Zulu’s are the acknowledged weavers of Africa.

Zulu Ukhamba Baskets
Traditionally used instead of pottery for storing and transporting homemade beer and other liquids
Zulu Ukhamba Baskets
Crafted by Zulu women who are grandmothers looking after their grandchildren as their parents have died of AIDS
Zulu Ukhamba Baskets
Hand-woven from local wetland grass and ilala palm leaves; dyed with extracts from leaves, roots, wood ash, and other local materials.
Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets

Intricately woven by Zulu Craftsmen, these urban versions of the grass and palm bowls were started by Zulu men working in the mines. It was here they discovered the cuts of plastic covered telephone wire came in a variety of bright colours and since they were fine and flexible were ideally suited for weaving. The baskets are crafted with great precision into intricate and colourful patterns. The popularity of these baskets have grown so much that the wire manufacturers now create wire baskets specifically for them. 

Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets
They discovered the cuts of plastic that covered telephone wire, came in a variety of bright colours and were ideally suited to weaving, being fine and flexible
Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets
Woven by Zulu Craftsmen, these urban versions of the grass and palm bowls were started by Zulu men working in the mines

Check out this Youtube Video on these amazing Zulu women weaving their baskets

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