Interview: Phanny Mangwiro | Bottle Cap Craft
3 November, 2017
Phanny, thank you for coming today! To start off with, where were you born?
I was born in Zimbabwe, on the 1st of the 1st, 1957. I grew up in Zimbabwe and I was a soldier in the army from 1974 to 1998.
Can you tell me about your experience of being a soldier?
I wanted to be a soldier, it was my choice. My first wish was to defend my country. I also got to travel to Mozambique, Kenya, Somalia and Angola during my service.
What did you do after your service?
I worked for a progressive insurance company in Zim, which is where I learned about trading; about buying and selling goods in order to make a profit.
It was in 2002 (by now I have three children, two girls and one boy), that I came up with a good idea. The Zim dollar was becoming a problem at this time, as our currency was becoming useless. I was working for a salary and on commission in Zimbabwe but I was struggling to pay for my children’s education and to support my family.
So what was your good idea!?
When I thought of coming to South Africa to work, I realized that I couldn’t work with my papers, but I could buy and resell. So I began to buy art in Zimbabwe and bring it back to South Africa to resell it here to the art market. I realized I was wasting a lot of money on transporting the goods, so in 2003 I started to make the goods here.
What brought about your use of recycled materials?
I began to use the bottle caps in 2005 because the beads were so expensive. I wanted to find a way to make money without buying and then I found the bottle tops. Using recycled materials firstly reduced the cost of production and then created a brand new product.
I used to buy the wire to join the bottle tops but I wanted my product to be recycled completely. I wanted the whole product to be recycled. So now I get the wire from the scrapyard.
How do you come up with your ideas?
I do a lot of reading; magazines and books. While I was in the army I read books to keep myself inspired. I am also inspired by people!
Where do you work from?
I work from home. If I get a big order I have some guys that I have trained and they work for me.
When did you begin creating art and design?
I have a background in art from when I was younger. During my time in the army I would help artists with their beading work as I enjoyed working with my hands.
Have you had any help in growing your business?
In 2010 I joined the CCDI (The Craft and Design Institute) and they taught me how to improve my way of selling, to perfect my product and how to better market my product.
What are your aims with your business?
I want to show younger people that you are able to work for yourself. I also want people to support local.
Thank you Phanny for sharing your story with us!