NICK AND NICHOL’S: MAKING VEGAN LEATHER FROM UPCYCLED MATERIALS
Nick & Nichol’s crafts intricate vegan leather products by sustainably re-using discarded tyre tubes to craft designer shoes, bags, and more.
Nick Mthunzi Nyalungu and Nicole Nyalungu are a husband and wife team whose chosen purpose in life is to teach the coming generation skills to make them self-sustaining and sufficient. Both Nick and Nicole were given the ability to teach themselves skills – and with those skills they are set and ready to teach other willing participants the same abilities to free themselves from whatever difficulty they might be in.
In 2016, the husband and wife duo started making their own after creations after embarking on a pilgrimage to both learn the right skills, and identify the equipment they needed.
After working from a garage for two years polishing their skills, both Nick and Nicole eventually moved into a studio shop, where they met customers from all over the world daily. Through the generous help of family, friends, locals and even tourists whom they met along the way, Nick & Nichol’s is a landmark in Whiteriver – producing handmade goods and vegan-friendly products.
“We were offered our first machine by our sister – starting off in a garage has been quite amazing, we’ve had so much experience doing this ourselves”, says Nick.
Nick’s imagination never stopped, and one day he noticed the stacks of by-product tyre inner tube in one corner of the depot, and this is where an exciting idea was sparked: to get creative and make bags from the tube itself. Without delay, Nick bought a patching needle and waxed string; and upcycled his first bag.
Using this technique, Nick and Nicole have expanded their idea into an entire product range – and today, their range of bags are both fashionable and edgy. Together, the team have exported their classic cuts around the world and now take bespoke orders too.
“We will process about 20 tubes a day – from there, we turn them into bags and shoes”, says Nick.
Nick & Nichol’s products are uniquely made and are designed on order – each item is painstakingly produced by hand from upcycled materials; and while production time may take longer than other outlets, Nick and Nicole ensure quality is achieved at every step of the way – and often create custom designs to suit anyone’s imagination.
Nick and Nicole take design inspiration from the world around them. “The types of products that we make from the types of tubes we collect are shoes, bags, (as well as) corporate gifting and homeware”, says Nick. My inspiration comes from nature, and African prints as well. For instance, we will look at the flowers of the season – we take those colours and implement them into the fabric that we use on the zips.”
Today, Nick and Nicole share their story with anyone who will listen. Through this, they now have their product travelling to every corner of the world – giving a new life to many different materials which may otherwise be discarded.