OUR HEARTFELT STORY
This is our Heartfelt story. It has a sad beginning but because of it the lives of others will be changed forever. Martha Letsoalo started the Heartfelt project with Julie Hadley after her son Emanuel died in prison wrongly accused and sadly abused at the age of 25. His files to this day have never been found. After stealing what little money Martha had and promising to get Emanuel out of prison, the corrupt lawyer left her broken hearted and disheartened by the legal system in the country. With no husband to depend on, no job opportunities and three grandchildren to feed - Martha did what came naturally to her – she found a way to survive.
The Heartfelt project is her story. It’s about who she is. It’s about her children. It’s about the lives of the women and families in her community. It’s about the sadness that happens on a daily basis in a little place called Makapanstad. And the big difference one small heart can make to the happiness of others. Together, Martha and Julie started creating and designing the Heartfelt products using traditional handcraft skills, felt and beads. Today they are sold within South Africa and Internationally. There are now ten women employed by the Heartfelt project. Each day they come to work full of pride and hope. Creating each Heartfelt design out of love and strongly believing that they can make a difference - not only to their own lives but to the lives of the community in which they live. Each heart sold by the Heartfelt project helps to feed and clothe the ladies and their families. It also gives back to the community by donating a small portion to a local charity to help fight TB, HIV/AIDS and look after children and old aged men and woman within Makapanstad. Its aim is to heal the hearts of people who don't have the opportunities we have on a daily basis. And to fill not only the ladies hearts but many others with hope.
Go in KAGISO (peace) & KATLEGO (joy).
Spreading the love one heart at a time. Heartfelt's mission is to continually create employment for unemployed women in the rural community of Makapanstad - through the creation of unique contemporary felt designs. Helping to empower not only the lives of these women, but also for the good of the community as a whole.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Our goal is to eventually create hundreds of jobs for women in South Africa and Africa over the next five years, developing a unique range that is instantly recognized under the Heartfelt brand. All our products will be made to the highest standard – continuously remaining at the forefront of South African design. Selling internationally and locally, each customer will help to make a difference to the lives of the Heartfelt ladies and their community.
HOW WE PLAN TO GET THERE
Heartfelt is a job creation and skills development project, using traditional hand craft skills to create Heartfelt products designed predominantly out of felt and beading. What makes Heartfelt products so unique is that they bring together rural woman producers and designers to develop innovative, high-quality product lines that are responsive to local and international markets. The ladies are given the opportunity to travel to urban centers to meet buyers, visit retail markets and connect with a larger context of taste, trend and consumption. In addition, The Heartfelt Project aims to ensure that these women can both continue to use their skills and earn a living wage for the rest of their lives.
LONG TERM GOALS - THE HEARTLAND
Heartfelt’s aim is to build a sustainable workshop in each area for the benefit of the community - called THE HEARTLAND. This will be a place where the ladies can work, get fed ( kitchen facilities), bring their children (crèche facilities) as well as a place which offers education (training courses in the evenings and on weekends for the ladies and members of the local community) and health care facilities (including an on site nurse conducting weekly check-ups and HIV/AIDS testing), as well as offering employment for the local people through management positions, staffing, agriculture that teaches them how to grow their own crops, with the aim of eventually being subsistence farmers, producing all the materials needed to run the project successfully. The aim of THE HEARTLAND is to be a totally ‘green’ initiative.
OUR BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY
Always make each product out of love, fill it with hope and believe someone will find it and send even more love back to the Heartfelt community. Every action can make a tiny difference. Lots of tiny differences can mean a lot of action.
THE CRAFT INDUSTRY
The craft sector is seen by the government as a sustainable way to alleviate poverty. It is estimated to employ 1.2 million people and contribute a whopping R3.4-billion to the economy every year. It has been identified as a priority growth sector by national government and is viewed as vital to the inclusion of rural people into the economy. The quality and range of products has improved markedly over the last 10 years, and happily, there is also a growing demand for craft in the local tourist market, increasingly in the local retail market and definitely in international markets. Craft as a productive activity is often seen as an effective means of creating sustainable livelihoods and nurturing small, medium and micro-enterprises. This is essentially because it has the unique potential to draw on existing cultural and human capital.
FAIRTRADE VS AID
Too much of the aid from rich nations, goes to Africa countries to fuel war and government corruption. Such money not only never gets to its intended recipients, Africa's truly needy - it actively plays a part in making their lives worse. At Heartfelt we believe that if money goes directly to the people who need it - through job creation & teaching life skills - then that is the most sustainable way to ensure that change happens and keeps happening.