In the world of art and design, there's a creative force that often goes unnoticed, weaving together the threads of passion, tradition, and innovation. It's the force that transforms raw materials into beautiful, functional pieces that enhance our surroundings. And this force is what we'd like to explore in our journey today.
Welcome to Chic Fusion, a company born from the vision and dedication of a teacher with a deep appreciation for textiles. It all started back in 2009 when, armed with extensive training and experience in textiles, a curious mind ventured into the world of felt-making. Today, we're here to delve into the story behind this remarkable enterprise, from its humble beginnings, to its current status as a thriving business occupying 150-200 square meters of floor space. But it's not just about the growth; it's also about what makes felt so special as an artistic medium for home design and décor. So, what is it that draws us to this craft, and what drives Chic Fusion's commitment to creating sustainable, handcrafted pieces that leave the lightest possible footprint on our planet?
Join us on this journey as we explore the unique essence and ethos of Chic Fusion, meet some of the incredible individuals who breathe life into this vision, and discover how partnerships like the one with kanju and their endeavors in the US have impacted this remarkable business.
kanju: What is your background and how did the company come about? When did it start and how has it grown?
Razaan: A teacher by profession, with extensive training and experience in textiles, I started dabbling in felt-making in 2009. The great revival in the ancient craft of felt-making led me to search techniques with wool fiber's and dyeing. After a few months, I recognized the opportunity felt-making provided and with a sense of excitement and trepidation, started Chic Fusion in 2010. With one staff member at the time working from a tiny space, we now occupy approximately 150 – 200 square meter's of floor space for two admin staff, a machinist, dye technicians and felt artisans.
kanju: What is special about felt? What draws you to it as an artistic medium that lends itself well to home design and décor?
Razaan: During my studies I was often drawn to making projects with wool, cotton, silk and hemp. My passion to work with natural fiber's steadily grew. I love that wool is malleable and easy to work with. It can be combined with other natural fiber's to create the most interesting textures. Dyeing wools is exciting, as the varieties of wools interact differently with the dye pigments, resulting in a vibrant color palette. Wool is soft and durable with a distinctive rustic feel. It improves the ambient air quality by locking away pollutants such as VOCs from the air more rapidly than other materials and adds a great sense of comfort to home décor.
"Wool improves the ambient air quality by locking away pollutants such as VOCs from the air more rapidly than other materials and adds a great sense of comfort to home décor."
kanju: What is your company aesthetic and where do you draw your inspiration?
Razaan: We explore the versatility of wool through creation of a range of décor items and accessories that respond well to the international market for fresh and innovative products. Clean contemporary designs merge with vibrant color palettes inspired by the South African landscape, with its intriguing recurring designs in nature, and its diverse cultures.
kanju: What is your company ethos and your company values? Is there a particular mission or goal behind your business, or particular causes your business participates in?
Chic Fusion embraces the ethos that simple, timeless designs using local, sustainable materials that are handcrafted in an ethical manner with the lightest impact on our planet is fundamental to enhancing the human experience.
We believe in building honest relationships with all stakeholders. We train and employ young school leavers who have not had the opportunity to enter into tertiary education. Once trained in the art of felting, they are offered a permanent contract.
kanju: How many people do you work with/employ?
Razaan: The enterprise has a staff complement of seventeen – A Manager, an Office Administrator, Operations Manager, dye technicians, felt artisans and a sewing machinist. Three of the staff are currently on a nine-month internship programme which ends in April. Should they have the aptitude and flair for the job at hand, and we are able to maintain orders, their contracts will be extended or made permanent. Are there one or two members of your business that have unique stories to tell, a unique role to play or have been with you and the Chic Fusion vision for the longest? Pamella Velile, who was unable to complete her schooling, joined our enterprise since August 2017. She underwent training in felting, takes pride in her work and is consistent in her work ethic and loyalty towards the company. She is assertive, and is always keen to assist others and
keep the team’s morale high. On her return to work this month, following her maternity, leave she was promoted to the position as Floor Manager.
kanju: Please tell us a little bit about the materials you use, why you select them and what makes them unique/interesting/high quality etc., and where they come from.
Razaan: Our felts are made entirely from wool fiber's, either Merino wool, karakul wool and/or mohair with the addition of silk or other natural fiber's such as cotton and linen. We have a record of ethical sourcing of materials. Only wool fiber's from non-mulesed sheep are procured from the Eastern Cape. We use Oeko-Teko approved dyes that do not contain restricted substances on the Oeko-Tex
Standard TM list to ensure it meets strict human-ecological standards.
"Chic Fusion embraces the ethos that simple, timeless designs using local, sustainable materials that are handcrafted in an ethical manner with the lightest impact on our planet is fundamental to enhancing the human experience."
kanju: Has working with kanju and in the US had a direct impact on your business?
Razaan: Our relationship with kanju has made notable strides towards providing opportunities for our staff. With the increase in our workload, we were forced to employ an Operations Manager, we’ve upskilled one of our longest working employees to oversee production in the studio. She took Maternity Leave recently which led us to upskill a second felter. In August 2022 we employed three interns on a nine-month contract to assist with dyeing and felting, and all three of them are showing great promise to be employed on a fulltime basis. We’ve recently employed an Office Manager to fulfill the admin roles and bookkeeping. This frees me up to concentrate on new designs and dealing with new clients.
Discover our full collection of hand-felted wool home decor.