Step into the enchanting realm of our blog post series, "Handmade with Love." Here, we embark on an expedition into the universe of artisans and their exquisite handiworks. In this captivating installment, our journey transports us to the heart of South Africa, where we uncover the remarkable narrative behind the birth of Amelia Jackson. Join us as we delve deep into the essence and personal principles that define Amelia Jackson. This edition unveils not only the triumphs but also the challenges that have colored their path, the unparalleled quality that saturates their creations, and a glimpse into the future that awaits this extraordinary venture.
Prepare to be captivated by the captivating story of Amelia Jackson and the extraordinary pieces that are meticulously brought to life through boundless affection and ingenuity. In the spotlight of this feature is the visionary force behind Amelia Jackson, Alan Glasser, who, alongside Val Glasser, embarked on a journey to establish a company that celebrates the heritage of Cape Town. Through the hands of local artisans and the use of indigenous materials, including handwoven rugs and an array of cotton treasures, Amelia Jackson stands as a testament to creativity rooted in community.
This interview below was completed by Alan Glasser, Founder of Amelia Jackson.
kanju: What inspired the start of Amelia Jackson, and how has the vision evolved since 1989?
AJ: In 1989 both Alan and Val were looking for employment outside of the large corporate world, we wanted something creative. After seeing a weaver in Zimbabwe many years earlier, the bug had bitten.
kanju: Can you share the story behind the name "Amelia Jackson" and its connection to ancestral craftsmanship?
AJ: When we started the business, we wanted to give it a name with connection and as Amelia Jackson was Val’s Grandmother and Alan’s Great Grandmother we chose to name it after her, especially as she had been a weaver many years prior in the United Kingdom.
AJ: Cape Town’s craft market allows crafters to get up close and personal with the end user and you get immediate feedback on all the new ideas. You can more easily design around the current trends and demands and make changes to anything that isn’t moving well. It allows for the coming together of client and creatives in a very easy, laidback environment.
kanju: How do you balance preserving time-honored values with the demands of modern craftsmanship?
AJ: By being the only two shareholders in the business, we can concentrate on the quality of the goods leaving us and not be worried about “chasing the bottom line” as it would be if we were answering to other folks. We want goods to last for ages, not just for a season.
kanju: Can you describe a particularly memorable moment or milestone in the journey of Amelia Jackson that encapsulates the essence of the enterprise?
AJ: We really feel great when anyone purchases any one of our items as we know it’s found a home, however, when a top hotel does, it’s extra special. We have supplied items to Tswalu, The Cape Grace and a lot of the Singita lodges.
AJ: The textile business has suffered great losses to those in the Far East, this causes problems for all levels of the industry and it makes it a lot more difficult to source local yarns. We have persisted over the years and for the first time in a long time, we are starting to see some investments coming back into the industry again.
kanju: How do you source your materials and work with other artisans to ensure the authenticity and quality of your products?
AJ: We have great relationships with loads of artisans in the greater Cape Town area and we try and help each other when we need things, be it materials or ideas. We use all locally manufactured yarns and continue to strive in looking for anything we can upcycle from existing textile manufacturers.
kanju: Could you share a glimpse into your creative process? How do you translate inspiration into tangible, handcrafted treasures?
AJ: We are constantly on the lookout for items that we feel will be well received by our clients, we see pictures or items we are asked to produce. We will put it together with cotton yarns we have in stock, sometimes it takes a few changes or modifications till we are happy it will work. Every now and then something just doesn’t gel, and we drop the idea altogether.
kanju: Can you speak to the role of innovation and adaptation in keeping the craft of Amelia Jackson relevant and engaging in today's ever-changing market?
AJ: Most folks have lost the knowledge of how things are made, we have many customers that are flabbergasted when they visit the Weavery and see the hand weaving process. This got us to create short videos of all our weavers in action, then we gave them all their own QR code, when our customers scan these codes on the back of our labels, they can meet the actual person behind the product and see them in action.
kanju: Looking ahead, what dreams and aspirations do you have for Amelia Jackson as it continues to stitch narratives of passion?
AJ: Recently we have extended our ranges even further and as these items have been well received, we would like to become the go to destination for all locally” handwoven cotton products” in South Africa. We are also starting to weave Alpaca products for some of the local Alpaca farmers and so will continue to look for any hand weaving opportunities.
Shop our latest collection of woven wonders from Amelia Jackson.