Audrey’s Factory a Sanctuary of Hope And Empowerment!
Photo Cred: Ikamva Design

Her resilience has paid off, and Audrey’s Factory stands as a testament not only to her vision to share skills with other women in need but also of reclaiming her dignity and rightful place in the world.

 

South Africa (15 February 2022) – Women who triumph over adversity always serve as an inspiration to others, especially when perseverance ends up being the defining force behind their success.  

Audrey Morkel knows all about building self-esteem. Escaping an abusive marriage, she channelled torment into creative growth. Her focus was a design factory housed in a container at her home at Bonteheuwel. Appropriately named Audrey’s Factory, the structure was donated by NPO Ikamva Labantu, who works hand in hand with her, manufacturing items for their Ikamva Design venture. 

Audrey is the manager, and creative designer all rolled into one. A qualified machinist, she brings skills amassed from years in the clothing industry.

“I was a machinist at Rex Trueform,” she says. “I was trained there, and they sent me to the factory production line attaching waistbands to trousers. I also had a job sewing car mats at the back of someone’s yard and worked in leather as a machinist making bags and shoes.”

Part of the joy of Audrey’s Factory is the empowerment of others to be self-sufficient.

“It’s my dream come true. My aim was that I wanted to be a trainer for the trainers and to start something small to create jobs for other people. As I came out of an abusive relationship, I had low esteem, so I want to enable other people to also realise their talents and grow. Today I sit here as a proud woman and feel honoured that someone gave me a chance.”

The flourishing enterprise sees Audrey operating an industrial plain machine. She employs two women who assist with stitching, ironing and other tasks. “I don’t have the finance to pay more people, so I also cut, repair and finish the products. The overlocker double stitch machine is big and very fast and feeds production. Learners have to learn the rhythm of the machine, but I enjoy it because I love to train people,” she says.

“When I started with Ikamva, a small factory called Community Creations was born. I was a sample hand and produced dolls which were sold at a shop at the V&A Waterfront. The designer saw potential in me and let me sit and cut freehand. The creative gift that I learnt from that that I want to show the world. Sometimes you just need to the chance to bring out what is inside you.”

Audrey’s Factory a Sanctuary of Hope And Empowerment!
Photo Cred: Ikamva Design

Partnership and shared skills reap great results  

Ikamva Design is a social enterprise that creates job opportunities for women in township neighbourhoods. It’s steered by co-founders and volunteers, Melanie Peterhans and Maria Matseke, and the Head of Ikamva Labantu’s Seniors’ Programme, Lulama Sigasana. Along with Audrey’s Factory, members of Ikamva’s Senior Citizen’s Clubs are integral to the initiative’s output.  

Melanie explains: “Audrey is the main seamstress, and she trains seniors and other women. It’s all about sharing skills. We’re currently doing beading training using looms. The women are building their own loom, and the seniors are teaching each other – it’s a circle.” 

“Our role is to provide access to the market, as that is a big stumbling block for a lot of entrepreneurs. This is a partnership, and Audrey is supported both with access to the market and raw materials – giving her support and flow.”

Best-sellers in the Ikamva Design range include bread baskets, table runners, Christmas trims, oven gloves and bags. Most of the products are made using colourful shweshwe cloth.

“I used to make wedding dresses and ball gowns, but now I like this work as the fabric is easy to work with,” adds Audrey.

The seamstress has transformed her container into a professional, well-organised space, and the orders keep flowing in.

“The items are unique because I make the patterns myself. You can’t go and buy them in a shop. Our orders mostly come from Sweden, and I’m doing kippot for Israeli clients and also take online requests from America. It’s the love we put into the work that we do that makes it all so special.”

Clearly, her resilience has paid off, and Audrey’s Factory stands as a testament not only to her vision to share skills with other women in need but also of reclaiming her dignity and rightful place in the world.  

The public can support Audrey and Ikamva Design by purchasing handmade Valentine’s Day gifts. It’s a handcrafted gift from the heart that will contribute to income generation and increase job opportunities in Cape Town. View the Ikamva Design catalogue, visit https://ikamva.org.za/ikamva-design-shop/.

Audrey’s Factory a Sanctuary of Hope And Empowerment!
Photo Cred: Ikamva Design

Sources: Ikamva Design
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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