SISTERS ROUSHANNA GRAY AND SAFIA TUCKER: LIVING AND WORKING SUSTAINABLY
Meet creative sisters who have both become successful entrepreneurs while staying true to their beliefs about sustainable living.
Roushanna Gray and Safia Tucker were raised by their parents to have a deep appreciation of their relationship with the world around them. Taking these lessons into adulthood Roushanna made a career from foraging and education, while Safia built a business working with ethically sourced leather.
Safia is the founder and creative director of Ilundi -a leather goods company which mindfully produces handcrafted products in Cape Town and offers hand painted customisations on every item.
She explains, “We cherish age-old techniques and traditional ways of making things. We don’t use any machines, our hands are the machines.”
Ilundi uses only ethically sourced materials, mainly leather. All their hides are sourced locally, tanned within South African tanneries and are all a by-product of the meat industry.
Safia studied fine art and drew on this foundation to teach herself the skill of painting on leather – something she’s gained immense pleasure.
“With this new range it’s really great to be able to express myself creatively in this way – it’s something that I haven’t done in such a long time, and it’s such a joy to walk into the studio and to know that I can just do this for the whole day. The designs are all hand painted and inspired by time in nature and on my sister’s farm,” she shares.
We made a trip to the Good Hope Gardens Nursery in Cape Point to meet Safia’s sister Roushanna Gray, who’s the founder of wild food foraging venue Veld and Sea.
“We run foraging workshops that run according to season, as well as educational events that focus on nature, self sustainability, and arts and craft,” comments Roushanna.
She explains that Veld and Sea aims to help foster a connection to the natural world through creativity and education, using food as a medium.
Their wild food foraging workshops and cooking classes focus on sustainability and the importance of considering the next season in terms of pollination and regeneration when harvesting. Proving that sustainable living can be fun, informative and delicious.
Sister’s Roushanna Gray and Safia Tucker are helping remind us of the abundance that our natural world has to offer, and how important it is to look after and cherish mother nature – and to protect its sustainability.
Q&A WITH SAFIA TUCKER
How does your work inspire living better?
“Our production and designs support local businesses as they are made from locally and ethically sourced materials. As we use natural hides and hand stitch most of our goods, our products are long lasting and develop a beautiful patina over time.”
“Creating something from a raw material like leather is a satisfying endeavour, as the products last a lifetime. By investing in a few well-made locally produced heirlooms that last many years, not only will it save you money and time down the line, you are also supporting local businesses and local artisans.”
What legacy would you like to leave behind through your design / work / business?
We celebrate traditional leather craftsmanship and therefore wish to create a design legacy that supports local craft and defies the norms of conventional luxury. This is the business legacy that we want to leave behind: A holistic workplace, focusing on women empowerment and supporting local suppliers and artisans.
How does your work incorporate or lead the conversation around sustainability?
We have massively reduced our waste by storing and utilising every bit of our scrap leather. All of our smaller goods are made from our off-cut materials. We don’t discard any piece of leather larger than 1cm squared – it is all used for our smaller fittings and pattern pieces, as well as our packaging.
What do you feel are important considerations to keep in-mind when looking into pursuing a design project in South Africa?
Supporting local suppliers, manufacturers and artisans. Sourcing ethically produced and sustainable materials. Creating opportunities to upskill staff and expand their capabilities.
Q&A WITH ROUSHANNA GRAY
How are you aspiring to live better?
I am aspiring to live a better life through balance found in work, love and life. Connecting to my purpose and passion allows me to share and teach wholeheartedly. Moments of happiness don’t stand up well in rigorous examination – the sense of happiness, wellbeing and purpose that all of us humans are on the search for lies in different places for everyone. I find my joy in sharing my passion about the edible landscape through immersive experience, connection and creativity. Personal inspiration also comes from time spent with family and friends on adventures in nature.
What 2 valuable lessons / pieces of advice would you like to share with South Africa?
“Immersive learning with nature as a tool for education is one of the most powerful experiences. Not only does it connect you to new ingredients but to seasons and cycles, ecology, art, science and history. You will form a bond with the people you experience this with, creating community, as well as fostering a relationship with the environment.
We are part of nature, not separate from it all, so when we reconnect to nature we are reconnecting with ourselves.
Where do you go to escape and connect with yourself?
Walks, writing and meditation on the mountainside or freediving in the kelp forests.
Do you have an encouraging quote for us, to end off on?
No one has said it better than David Attenborough — ‘No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced
Are there any last comments / thoughts you’d like to add?
Diving into the delicious world of edible flowers, wild herbs, local flavours and edible seaweeds is an activator to unlocking hundreds of beautiful doors of learning and evoking a sense of curiosity for our edible landscape. The more you explore, play, create and experience, the more likely you will come to understand the value of our land and oceans, gain the respect and will to protect it – not only for ourselves and the sensitive ecosystems but also for our future generations to come.