Women-owned businesses in Woodstock

Women entrepreneurs are leading the way in many fields in Africa. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s latest biannual Women’s Entrepreneurship report, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region that reports the highest percentage of female business owners in the world, at 11.3% of its women running businesses (compared to just 6% globally). 

Much is the case in Woodstock, Cape Town, where a host of our established, women-run businesses uplift our community by creating jobs and drawing people to the area. Historically a part of Cape Town where industry blossomed since the late 1800s, from glass manufacture to textiles, still today Woodstock is known as a hub for the creative industries and go-to destination for suppliers.

August has become synonymous in South Africa with Women’s Month  –  perhaps because a single day hardly begins to recognise the importance of female leaders amongst our local and global communities.

This month we profile four of our own Woodstock women, business owners paving the way across the sectors of food, art, fashion and interior design.

Sumari Krige  –  La Grange Interiors

An industry stalwart in commercial South African interior design, Sumari Krige runs La Grange Interiors, a business based in the new Woodstock Quarter with a second showroom in Kramerville, Johannesburg. La Grange brings a collection of luxury and heritage furniture and decor to South African homes, both sourced globally and locally designed by Sumari.

We chatted to Sumari about her business:

How did La Grange Interiors start?

Charlotte Daneel and I started the company in 1996 originally as a showroom for international companies to view locally made lifestyle and decor pieces. We were the buying agents for international department stores such as Gallerie la Fayette in Paris, De Bijenkorf in Holland and Magasin du Nord. Our business model then shifted to introduce some of the international brands to the local South African market as it quickly became apparent that there was a large gap for beautiful interior decor stores.    

How does your business support local industry?

Further to the import of International products we still manufacture approximately 40% of our furniture items locally, therefore supporting South African companies and local industries.

What do you love about Woodstock?

Woodstock has quickly become the furniture and decor hub of Cape Town,  the lively vibe inspires creativity making it the perfect space for my brand.   

Julie Carter  –  Ocean Jewels Seafood

A much-loved tenant of Woodstock Exchange, Ocean Jewels specialises in fresh fare from the ocean to take home and cook or eat in (like owner Julie Carter’s famous tuna burgers).

Lockdown saw her expanding her delivery route and growing to offer veggie boxes along with her popular fresh and frozen seafood, as well as a wide assortment of locally sourced food goods from dairy to sushi condiments. Many a Capetonian now looks forward to her regular emails updating on what’s available and fresh to order that week, along with recipe ideas on her Instagram feed, @oceanjewelsfish.

Why did you start Ocean Jewels?

In 2006 I visited one of the very first Neighbourgoods markets at the Biscuit mill. I was blown away by the energy and vibe, and also in between jobs, I was really yearning to start on my own. My father was a fisherman and I had sold fish to friends over the years and loved cooking. The market gave me the opportunity to get started with little risk and capital. I found I loved it and customers loved my fish. 

How does your business “support local”?

We try to buy most of our fish from local fishermen and we buy as much as possible from suppliers in Woodstock – we get veggies, baked goods, packaging, oil and gas all from local Woodstock shops.

What do you love about Woodstock?

For me it’s the Woodstock energy, everyone is busy and making plans. It feels like the small businesses are working hard and succeeding. Woodstock is fairly central but it’s not city rentals so it’s a good place for small independents. It feels like the residents of Woodstock take care to get to know and support local businesses. They take pride in the small industries and it helps us survive.

Clementina van der Walt  –  Clementina Ceramics

Clementina van der Walt is one of South Africa’s most well-known commercial ceramicists and is one half of the business Clementina Ceramics, running their studio at Tollgate Industrial Centre in Woodstock (their store in the Old Biscuit Mill closes this month).

Tell us how Clementina Ceramics began? 

I have been making ceramics all my adult life. In the 1980s I was lecturing in the Ceramic Department at Wits Technikon (now UJ) and in 1989 moved to the Cape and went on my own in a studio in Paarl. There was a great demand for the hand-painted tableware that I was producing at the time, so I slowly took on one assistant whom I trained and this developed into a bigger production studio with additional assistants. My partner Albie Bailey joined the studio in 1997. In 2004 we moved to Cape Town, and to Woodstock in 2009.

How does your business support the local community?

We have a store and a studio in Woodstock, where we employ people from the neighbourhoods surrounding Woodstock. 

What do you love about Woodstock?

Woodstock is a very ‘real’ neighbourhood. Factory workers and ’trendies’ all in the same environment. However, gentrification has its ups and downsides. In some ways, it  brings more foot traffic and hence increases economic activity. On the other hand, there is a sense that families who have lived in the area for decades are being pushed out by developers. This is something that needs to be addressed.

Sadie Bosworth  –  Sadie Bosworth Atelier

A relatively “new kid on the block” Sadie Bosworth is a fashion designer originally from KZN, who opened her studio doors to Sadie Bosworth Atelier in Woodstock’s De Waal House in 2019. She’s known for her beautiful wedding dresses that are romantic, elegant and unconventional. Recently, she’s made headlines designing a dress for the Oscars, for Pippa Ehrlich, director of My Octopus Teacher, which won this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary. Fans of the local version of The Bachelorette will also know she designed the gown for the leading lady’s fairytale ending.

Why did you start Sadie Bosworth Atelier?

I started Sadie Bosworth Atelier because I have always been completely in love with couture and beautiful dresses and I found that bridal was the best way to create garments with a couture level of time, detail and handwork that goes into their construction. I also grew up reading fairy tales and fantasy and I feel like creating beautiful dresses is my way of continuing that romantic and whimsical aesthetic. 

How does your business support local?

We support local through our production. All of our garment creation is done in our Woodstock-based studio, and we are employing three women. We also love to collaborate with other local bridal industry businesses and work together to stimulate our industry. 

What do you love about Woodstock?

Woodstock is great! I love the huge range of local businesses and the quirky creativity that pops up everywhere. There are also some great coffee and lunch spots around and it is so convenient to get to many of my suppliers around the city from here.

See more local creative businesses on our Instagram account @woodstockimprovementdistrict, under our Guides section. You can also check out our 2019 story, Woodstock Design District: Five creative businesses to know.

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