By Nomqhele Sisa Nkomo
The Ndebele have been gifted craftsmen for as long as our history textbooks remind us. Weaving, pottery and beadwork are some of the many skills I know have been passed down from generation to generation. With this in mind, its always endearing to see someone taking a refreshing approach to crafting, which is essentially a part of our culture.
This is what Adrial Amana does, with her brand CraftByDreii. She handmakes beaded handbags in a way that rivals luxury handbags like Coach and Birkin, but with a distinct Ndebele aesthetic. I was so inspired by her story and I just couldn’t wait to meet up and chat away.
I know I’ve said this before, but this was by far the best conversation I’ve had. Gifted hands and a penchant for a wonderful conversation, oh what a delight Adrial is! Let me take you back and craft (pun intended) a story of CraftbyDreii, as told by founder Adrial Amana. Here’s a short excerpt from the delightful conversation we had. Enjoy!
Who are you?
My name is Adriel Tariro Amana, I’m a public administrator by profession. I’m someone who is passionate about art. I am an addicted reader. I have realized everything that I do besides my profession is always along the lines of art. I am 24 and I stay in Ntabazinduna.
How long have you been doing beadwork?
I have been doing it for almost two years . I started late 2021, we turn two next year in April. It was initially a means to an end because of Covid, as an extra source of income. but I grew to love it as I progressed.
Is your craft only limited to beadwork or do you use other materials as well?
It is not limited to beads but however there are a number of other materials that need to be incorporated in the bag making process such as leather or satin for the lining of the bags. When I started working on the brand, I made it a mission to create fresh, colourful, modern designs to accommodate the current generation. So we make bags now according to people’s preferences. We make other items as well — cup holders,glass cases, napkin holders and table runners.
What inspired you to start handbag making?
It all comes down to the passion for art and so I manifested that in my beadwork. Art is something I have been doing since I was young and so that environment played a pivotal role in that. I can go two months without selling a bag, but because I am passionate I continue to make the bags regardless.
How much does it cost to make a bag?
We use a lot of materials. As a handmade craft, it is sometimes required to make the inners of the bags from scratch and to hand stitch everything. I use more materials now than what I initially anticipated that’s why it’s hard to make samples, because of the costs. So, I always strive to make the bags perfect on the first attempt.
How supportive are people of your business?
My parents are supportive of everything. The social media family has been extremely supportive, that’s where I get most of my clients. For a startup business I’d say we’re gaining a lot of support . I am yet to experience community support here because I moved back to Bulawayo recently.
What challenges have you encountered from the time you started out and up until where you are now?
They are quite a lot but the main one is my suppliers. There are very few of them and because of that,
they tend to inflate their prices. This and high makes it difficult for me to price the bags. The second thing is that Zimbabweans are not very receptive to art. We see the beauty but we do not want to pay
the price for that art, and so I’m are forced to underprice our bags. Also, it’s been difficult to get a
shop in town because owners of buildings will raise the rental once they discover you are into arts and crafts. They will think that you have big bucks!
How tough is the market out there considering that there are a number of people also doing
It’s tough and I would rate it as a 6 out of 10. There are a lot of people that are engaged in arts and crafts and the most prominent one I know is Beads by Fifie and she is amazing. So far I have not seen anyone with a truly original idea, we all try to customize them to make them specific to our art which is something I appreciate about creative art.
How long does it take you to complete a piece?
It depends on the size. Sling bags it’s a day and with larger bags it’s about three to seven days, depending on what I do in between and the availability of supplies in that time.
Most people pursue beading as a side hustle, how is it working out for you as a full time job?
I do not want to go back to the office. Yes it offers financial stability, but I love beading and so I will
focus on it full time until everyone knows about CraftbyDreii.
Apart from social media how else do you advertise your work?
Word of mouth. Whenever I leave the house I wear my products as advertising. Word of mouth
is the real deal because with social media anything can happen to your phone which then
becomes an inconvenience.
Do you offer classes to teach people who might be interested in learning beadwork?
I have three students that I’ve taught and there are two more that are pending. I also have a
student in Victoria Falls because apparently I’m affordable but I’m happy to see that my growth
has spread beyond Bulawayo.
So there you have it, craft but make it chic. That’s CraftByDreii for you — a fitting accessory, a perfect gift, a Bulawayo hun essential. If you want to get your own unique piece, you can reach out on Instagram or X. You can also contact Adriel directly on +263785036297.