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They say the key to a successful business, is turning your passion into your pay cheque! And thats precisely why we believe in Saffron Souk; all the local makers and merchants behind the storefronts you see lining the virtual shelves of the Saffron Souk market truly believe in the product they trade.  And many, including Melissa from the rustic bead, are developing their business as a social enterprise, nurturing other parallel businesses and the artisans they support. 

Melissa first set up her business plan for the rustic bead, one of our favorite homeware brands, in July of 2011. Being South African born and raised, one of her key focus areas was selecting proudly South African small businesses as her suppliers.

2. – 10. Just a little taste of the many gorgeous South African artisan homeware products for sale at the rustic bead.

The rustic bead‘s suppliers now consist of many small South African businesses employing people from the community, teaching them a trade or a skill; and making them feel empowered, valued and part of the business.

Melissa tells us that "working with these suppliers is my way of giving back to my home country and my people; with each sale I am able to place bigger orders and in a small way I feel like I am helping them sustain and grow their businesses."

She explains that she tries to visit the rustic bead suppliers factories, at least once a year. An experience she describes as wonderful, having "learnt a lot about how many of the products are made, making them extra special". We couldn’t agree more. The rustic bead is one of our go to gift shops and many friends and family that have been lucky enough to receive one of the pieces from Melissa’s carefully selected product ranges, have now started shopping there directly (and Melissas infamous customer service is certainly an added extra!).

Melissa talks us through one of her factory visits, to a delightful small business based in Somerset West (Cape Town, South Africa)  where you can see how a gorgeous earthen ware butter dish stocked at the rustic bead gets made…


11. Carin the designer making the moulds  12. Kevin is then responsible for casting the slip clay…

13. Kevin pouring the slip clay 14. Cleaning and sponging the green ware to ensure a well finished product. Melissa tells us this can be quite a laborious task! 15. Carmen loading the Kiln used to fire the ceramics


6. Green ware; thoroughly dried out and ready for the first of three firings. 17. Packing the Green ware into the kiln.

18. Debbie glazing the ceramics 19. Back to Carmen for another firing in the kiln 20. Variety of ceramics in various stages of production

The factory was started 22 years ago as a family business, and it remains so today. There are 15 permanent staff, most of which have been with the company for 10 years and longer! The employees are all from the local community where they have been upskilled and provided with stable employment. Social responsibility is important to this small business with various South African charities supported annually.

21. The finished product!

22. A range of finished products, ready for distribution to the rustic bead…

It is obvious from Melissa’s attention to detail – from her market presentation to gift wrapping – that she considers it such a joy to be able to import products she personally loves and can enjoy; sharing a range of individually crafted and hand finished unusual products (which many call quirky) that are alive with character, originality and that support such a worthwhile community.

Don’t miss out, snap up one of these divine quality handmade creations (made with love in South Africa!) from UAE based the rustic bead now….