Marilyn Safodien had been crocheting for more than 30 years before she finally took a leap of faith and turned her passion into a profitable business that she plans to launch online soon.
It was after visiting the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) four years ago that she made up her mind to go into business.
The institute, a joint initiative of the Western Cape government and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, aims to develop people and build creative enterprises trading within local and international markets.
Although she still operates from her home in Mitchell’s Plain, Safodien has grown her business idea to an ever-expanding enterprise by contracting six people to assist her.
She says she started her crocheting business, Off the Hook cg, after listening to a talk by a street trader.
So inspired was she by the trader’s determination to overcome his challenges, that she went to every workshop she could attend to help turn her idea into a viable business.
“I was blown away. He ended up in jail because he was trading on the streets, but he did not give up on his dream,” says Safodien.
The CCDI assisted her in turning her idea into a business and she started off crocheting jewellery and bags which were sold at various markets.
“I went to various markets just to test what people took to and to listen to their feedback so that I could make things that people wanted to buy.
“People buy accessories, but baby products are more of a need than a want. I also need to look at my profitability and productivity. It takes me a day to make a bag which costs R500, whereas in that same amount of time I can crochet 10 pairs of baby boots which cost R150 per pair,” says Safodien, who has recently started on a baby range.
Safodien has sold her products at various markets and events, including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival as well as the Kamers vol Geskenke market that provides international exposure.
She says she continues to test new ideas by wearing her own products.
By doing this Safodien is able to get the feel of the product and know whether any improvements are needed.
She is also able to weigh up other people’s responses to her products.
“I want to grow my business into an online store and I want to employ unemployed women to help me to do this,” says Safodien.