Impact SA

Celebrating African women in artisanry and craftsmanship 

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The 2023 Handmade Contemporary Fair recognises African women artisans and their contribution to the luxury economy

Africa’s premier artisanal luxury fair, the upcoming Handmade Contemporary Fair (HmC Fair), is taking place from 1-3 September at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. With over 90% of the 100 artisans displaying their craftsmanship and design being women and the fair itself being fully women-run, this event is celebrating the creativity and entrepreneurship of African women and showcasing the finest handmade creations from across the continent.

“Women play a significant role across a vast range of artisanry and craftsmanship in Africa, which is an essential part of the continent’s cultural and economic landscape,” says Lesley Hudson, Head of Operations  for HmC Fair. “Over the last 17 editions of HmC Fair, we have witnessed a growing interest in handmade and sustainable products worldwide, a movement that is creating increasing opportunities for African craftswomen to access both local and international markets”. She adds that HmC Fair is the ideal collaborative ecosystem to recognise these incredible women and to celebrate and showcase their talent  and contribution to the luxury economy. 

This year’s HmC Fair encompasses ‘Where Handmade African Luxury Meets the Future’. The Fair advocates for the importance of protecting handmade industries and their ability to preserve culture, create wealth for communities that source or make the goods – while recognising that the technological advances of AI and technology can aid, expand and amplify these products and brands.

“Our emphasis is on supporting local entrepreneurs who create jobs to access a market that sustains employment through production,” says Hudson, adding that this approach is more sustainable in enabling access to the market. Most of our entrepreneurs record making at least 60% of their annual turn over from the 4 days of HmC Fair. 

One of the vendors at this year’s HmC Fair is Fibre Textile Artist, Lerato Motau from Orlando West in Soweto, whose mashangane (bright neon) colours and vivid creations reflect her Shangaan ancestry. Despite her dyslexia, Motau obtained a Fine Arts and Teaching Diploma from the Johannesburg Art Foundation. 

“My work represents me as a person, because I am able to speak my journey of dyslexia using visual perception as communication – no words, but a story that speaks volumes in terms of how you look at the work and how it makes you feel,” says Motau who was drawn to embroidery as a way to interpret how she sees the world.  “I can heal myself in terms of each and every stitch, which represents my emotions and my healing. When you use your hands, it becomes authentic. It’s like I am stitching my wounds and it represents me as a person telling my story”.

Motau’s work has been commissioned throughout the country,  including embroidered public artwork for the Vaal Campus of the North West, the Leonardo Hotel in Sandton and in Vilakazi Street, Soweto. One of her long-term projects, Friendship Skirts, which she made with the individual characteristics of many of her female friends in mind, have been shown on a documentary in Beijing, and later worn as part of a fashion show in Johannesburg.

Sari for Change creates beautiful, timeless pieces that are both stylish and socially conscious, with each piece carefully crafted from pre-loved saris, giving them a second life and reducing land-fill waste in the process. This is a sustainable fashion brand where style meets sustainability, and will be yet another of the brands inspiring conscious consumerism at this year’s HmC Fair.

Founder Rayana Edwards says that to be part of HMC Fair means that we are part of the new ecosystem in building new narratives in design and most importantly to include the business of fashion and design. 

“Last year was the first time we participated at HMC fair. It was a beautiful experience in introducing our brand, very well received and this year we are wishing to grow and build from this and to continuously connect with clients who at this time choose to shop locally and more consciously. Also, always excited to see the new crop of designers’ come through, innovating through technology and art, landing it into the new world,” Edwards says.

She says that the more platforms we have such as HmC Fair, the bigger the chances of building our brands and reaching the success for everyone in the value chain. “Upskilling and skills transfer now lie with us, we cannot wait around for leaders to do this. We must lead!”

Handmade Contemporary Fair (HmC Fair) is Africa’s premier artisanal luxury fair, showcasing the finest handmade creations from across the continent. With a commitment to celebrating African craftsmanship and design, HmC Fair offers a platform for talented artisans to showcase their work and connect with a discerning audience.  Now in its 17th edition, each year the fair attracts a glamorous crowd creating an immersive experience that is not to be missed. HmC Fair’s goal for 2023  is to inspire, enable and  shine the spotlight on the African creative community by connecting it to the luxury economy. 

The HmC Fair will run from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd September 2023. 

Day One      Friday 1st September        | 11h30 – 21h00 

Day Two      Saturday 2nd September | 10h00 – 22h00 

Day Three   Sunday 3rd September     | 10h00 – 17h00 

Day Passes will be R120, and Weekend Passes will be R200. At the door, tickets will be available for R130 per day, with a Partner Discount rate of R90 per day. Children under 18 can attend the fair free of charge but must be accompanied by an adult.

Tickets  for the HmC Fair 2023 can be purchased at


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