Afreek Leather Designers and Crafters
How many people does your business feed?
Alfred and I have met only once, however, there was an instant connection. We are both passionate about helping others in a unique way. On the surface it was connecting with someone over the love of creating opportunity and jobs. Alfred and I are also passionate about the deeper level when passion is ignited, purpose is created, and the soul wakes up with a new vigor.
Now our conversations happen mostly over WhatsApp, but we share back and forth the excitement over igniting passion and purpose in others. Alfred encourages others he meets to work hard and believe in themselves, he also encourages me! He says it is about leading by example and working as hard as possible.
Alfred told me about the time he was unemployed, pre-Afreek Leather days. He was standing on the corner raising his hand for work. I think there was a divine plan in this experience, and the memory is now imprinted on him working as a source of inspiration. He realized he was not alone on the street (unemployment is about 30% in South Africa, higher in poorer areas). Alfred felt in that moment that he was supposed to come back and give others on the street opportunity too. Take note, he didn’t say money, give-back, or charity. Alfred’s drive from that point on was about creating more than a quality product, it was about creating opportunities for others.
“When people are unemployed for a long time they lose hope”, Alfred explains. He sees that everyone has talents inside them even if they don’t have the opportunity to show them. Today he takes on apprentices when he can. He says at first, they might be quiet or uneasy but then over time their spirit comes alive with a renewed sense of purpose. Alfred explains, “Everyone thrives with purpose, their joy is restored.”
He teaches his apprentices how to pay attention to detail, work hard, and in turn the business grows. His team is growing steadily and yet he still has dreams to bring on more, hold workshops on entrepreneurism, and help others start businesses too.
What struck me most was when Alfred referred to how many people his business was able to feed. When I asked him how many he employs his response is not 3 or 4. He says, this business feeds my family and 3 others. It is remarkable to see his dedication to growing the business for the passion of leathermaking as well as caring for others. He talks about the transformation of his new recruits and explains how after a while they also come alive with purpose and can see their joy.
Our partnership is about more than leather, it’s a mission.
Pictured is a quote printed on leather in Alfred’s shop:
“When you buy from an independent artist you are buying more than just a pair of shoes, a nice piece of jewellery or tea cup, but you are buying hundreds of hours of experimentation and hundreds of failures. You are buying nights of worrying about paying the rent, having enough cash to eat, feed the dog or buy more materials. You aren’t just buying a thing, you are buying a piece of heart, part of a soul, a private moment in someone’s life. Most importantly, you are buying the artist more time to do something they are truly passionate about; something that makes all of the above worth the fear and doubt; something that puts the life into living.”