Chantal Louw and Thessa Bos are dedicated to promoting the local creative industry. As the founders of The Fringe Arts they’ve conceptualised and organised creative projects ranging from retail to marketing and events in collaboration with almost a hundred local artists and designers. Their most well-known being a series of pop-up stores in and around Cape Town. A year ago they dropped the ‘pop-up’ and opened their first permanent store on Kloof Street.
Chantal is an art historian who, until a few years ago, was the Gallery Director of a top contemporary gallery in Cape Town, while Thessa was the commercial and cultural officer of the Netherlands Consulate General in Cape Town.
They told us why they started The Fringe Arts, “We met through the arts, discovered a mutual passion for local artists and designers and the idea of giving them a platform. We want to show locals and internationals alike that the South African creative sector is a force to be reckoned with, and that it extends much further than the beading, wiring and Big Five themed craft that dominates the scene. At the same time, we are passionate about making a contribution to sustainable creative businesses.”
For our Creative Women series we asked Chantal and Thessa to share their favourite female creatives of 2012. Here they are:
Caryn Fourie (A Bird Named Frank)
She has an amazing eye for developing products that are beautiful and fun, and that really appeal to people. I admire her eye for detail and her approach of really turning A Bird Named Frank into a sustainable creative business.
Anna Richerby (Beloved Beadwork)
Her product has taken traditional beading to a whole new level. I think she is an amazingly talented designer, and a business woman who sticks to what she believes in and never compromises her values.
Jesse Breytenbach (Henri Kuiken)
I love her style and products and admire how she has been able to build her name slowly but surely over the years. She is passionate and consistent.
Dagmar Grimmelikhuysen (Moko)
It is such a pleasure to watch someone develop themselves so passionately, who is so open to suggestions, who is so keen to improve her products. When Dagmar started this I think she may have not known how creative and talented she actually is and I think she’s slowly realising this and is loving it.
Tanya Laing (Sootcookie)
Her designs are always unexpected, and always so much fun. Because she is committed to and serious about her business.
We met Keri in 2011 and immediately fell in love with her paper creations and her book artworks. The adoration was so intense that we asked her to have a solo exhibition with us at our V&A pop-up in March. Since then Keri has grown as a designer and has created a range of work. She has built installations in malls, exhibited in a few galleries and run workshops. Most recently Keri started a talk entitled A Session for Creative Entrepreneurs. Her enthusiasm is infectious.
Karin Matthee (Dear Rae)
The first thing I noticed about Karin is how tiny she is and how absolutely well thought out her business plan and way of working is. In two short, jam packed years Karin has started Dear Rae, built a loyal following and opened a studio/store in Woodstock. Any one of these would be an incredible feat on it’s own and Karin just gracefully does it all. The range works well on every single person I have met, it is simple and versatile. And the best part is you can live the rest of your life with a Dear Rae ring on and never take it off. It is so unobtrusive it almost melts into your body.
Wendren Milfrod (Wren Design)
‘Take a story with you’ is exactly what you do when you buy a Wren bag and then you become the storyteller and the story becomes yours. There are a lot of reasons to look to Wren for inspiration, not least because she recycles in her work, or that she is passionate about changing the way we do business but it is the beauty and quality of her work. Her constant innovation and striving for the great bag has led her to create an international brand.
Anna Raimondo (Smith Jewellery)
The care and attention to detail in Anna’s work is phenomenal. Her studies and work experiences, locally and abroad, culminate in every piece she makes. From the Moroccan designs to the playful moustaches, her work is classical in its line and beautiful in its simplicity. She has recently moved to full-time in her company and I think this has pushed her work further.
Megan Jayne McFall (Starbright Girl)
Megan is from Durban and a regular I Heart Market’er (go see the market if you’re ever there). A self-confessed pop culture geek, Megan has gone from working full-time, creating part-time to creating and running her company full-time in two short years. She managed this by making some tough decisions and sticking by them.
Find more from The Fringe Arts at www.facebook.com/thefringearts