DAISY WHITE is the executive director of Magic Moments Trust, which has been established to teach rural people to discover and develop their creativity through learning fabric painting skills. Her aim is to enhance the lives of people, especially women, who are unemployed and from rural areas.
Daisy and her mother started the company twenty years ago with the slogan "Teaching the World to Paint". In this time she has taught thousands of people to paint. About six years ago, Daisy started teaching people in rural areas.
Says Daisy, "My passion for this project comes from my love of art and I really enjoy working with people in rural areas. There are a lot of 'hidden gems'; people with real talent. By teaching people fabric painting skills, we have created a means to earn an income."
"The fabric painting workshops help people develop confidence in their painting abilities, and provide them with purpose and a passion, and, as an outcome, to feel that they are worthy and contributing towards an inclusive society."
Practicing new skills
Daisy designs the ever-expanding range of unique artwork. The designs are printed onto fabric and are sewn into articles, which include bags, cushion covers, placemats and tablecloths, and prepared for painting. Artists meet weekly for about six-hour painting sessions. At each lesson, they are taught fabric painting techniques and given a chance to practice their new skills. The artists each receive a product to paint and are paid instantly for the work they complete in the class. They also receive refreshments and money for transport.
"I really enjoy seeing their confidence grow and the joy on their faces at what they can accomplish in the painting classes," explains Daisy.
A constant flow of income
The artists are encouraged to be entrepreneurs and are given another product, including paint and brushes, to take home to paint. They can either keep or sell the work they complete to tourist shops or in their communities. Painters are also encouraged to share their new-found artistic skills with family members and others.
Consequently, these lessons create the opportunity for people to be equipped with new skills that have the potential to provide themselves with a constant flow of income. Some of the artists have gone on to receive orders from people within their communities to paint bags, cushion covers and tablecloths. "These orders fill the recipients with pride and dignity knowing that people appreciate their skills and are buying their painted products," says Daisy.
"We also teach people with disabilities, which is really amazing. When they are sitting around the table, they are just like everybody else. To become part of the economy and earn an income gives them a sense of achievement." The success of the Magic Moments Trust painting programme is evident in that creations have been sold in the Embocraft Training Centre Craft shop, and the 1000 Hills Community Centre shop that sell to tourists and local visitors. In addition, the Centre has received orders from as far afield as Australia and Scotland.
The Durban International Conference Centre ordered 400 painted bags in 2017 to give to delegates for a conference in 2018. Such orders provide extra earning opportunities for the painters. The Magic Moments Trust is passionate about helping their artists to become self-sustaining and hopes to continue multiplying the volume of products painted.
Expansion into the United Kingdom
In line with this drive, the Trust is creating an opportunity for these entrepreneurs to sell their painted goods in London. Mike Miller, the London based founder of SAPRO, a leading importer of South African products into the United Kingdom (UK), has identified with the project. As a result, he is willing to help Magic Moments Trust distribute these products in the UK via his established network through his company's website.
In addition, the South Africa High Commissioner to the UK, Thembi Tambo is passionate about what Magic Moments Trust does. "She has invited us to travel to the UK next year to a South African week in order to give painting workshops to people from London, which is very exciting," said Daisy.
An expansion into the United Kingdom market, with its strong currency, has significant potential to produce fresh income flows to benefit impoverished rural communities whose members want to 'do it for themselves'.
Through the Magic Moments Trust, companies are offered the opportunity to contribute to this unique and empowering programme. Opportunities exist to enhance a company's B-BBEE status through optimising points allocated to Socio-Economic Development. "We are also working towards a zero-percentage funding model, where we buy the paintings back from the students and then we sell them in the UK. When that money comes back into the Trust, we are able to train more students. In this way we don't have to rely on funding," said Daisy.
Magic Moments Trust is also looking for more outlets to distribute these products locally. Says Daisy, "My aim is to help these budding artists grow their dreams and reach new goals as an example to other members of their community. My aspiration is to continue to create sustainable employment for people from rural areas."