Lulu Belle first opened its doors 20 years ago in Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria – but it feels like yesterday! At the time I did not realise it, but in opening those doors, I opened up a whole new world of colour and craftsmanship, of artists and artisans, of dedication, design and detail. Because behind each beautiful object at Lulu Belle you’ll find its maker – behind those luxuriant silks are steady hands, behind each beaded bag are busy fingers, embroidering beautiful items into being. And those skillful hands belong to gifted people whose artistry spans the globe.
While the Lulu Belle journey over the past two decades has been rewarding and exhilarating in turns, it’s the relationships I have built up with all these gifted people that have been the most enriching to me personally – people from all walks of life who are prepared to share their unique gifts with us all. From Arun, the driver who happily schleps me through the bustling congested streets and alleyways of India, to Dzung and her family of tailors and silk makers in Hanoi, who’ve worked with silk for countless generations, to Andrea in Brazil and Nikolai in Athens. Each one of them has welcomed me into their own world, and the relationship has gone from the transactional to the personal, from barter and business to firm friendships. Each of them has a story to tell, each of them invests every bit of their being into the accessories and apparel we create. And that, in part, is what makes each one of our products unique – there’s a story to each object, a presence in each perfectly executed piece. Nothing is mass-produced; everything is lovingly crafted by hand by dedicated artisans.
It still amazes me that so many of those who journeyed with me from the early days when Lulu Belle first launched are still so present in my work life and in our products. They’ve stitched and sewn their signatures on our range of clothing and accessories, and they’ve found their way into my heart. So, when next you purchase an item from Lulu Belle, make it yours, make a new story for it – your own – to add to the twenty-year legacy of Lulu belle!