Krafted Ink: Leaving a Mark in the Creative Sector, Through Gifts That Speak to the Heart
Well known for her bespoke, eco-friendly, handmade Ankara notebooks and gift set, Gladys is a young lady from Zimbabwe, who has managed to use her love for art in an extra ordinary way. Having been raised in an entrepreneurial family, Gladys went on to implement her experience and knowledge by starting her own business, using her artistic abilities to come up with a firebrand called Krafted Ink.
Krafted Ink an artistic company offering bespoke and handcrafted products. The handmade products include, journals, diaries, gift bags, gift boxes by recycling pieces of Ankara fabric. The company was established in 2017, and was conceived out of a strong desire to uphold the African standards of sharing gifts and memories. Birthed in the land of Zimbabwe, in the inner parts of the Sunshine City of Harare, Krafted Ink resolved that its products had to cement the standard of Ubuntu. Its design philosophy is of traditional craftsmanship and afrocontemporary style which enables the creation of unparalleled memories and experiences that are timeless in impact and nature.
Krafted Ink manufacture note books, diaries, gift bags, gift boxes, folders, greeting cards, photo albums, envelopes and photo frames, with a continuous intention to grow a diverse our product line in future. The Krafted Ink target market be it individuals or groups a strong, defined self-awareness and brand collateral and have an appreciation of their cultural heritage and identity. Their products appeal to middle income young people, students with no family obligations with some disposable income and an older, self-actualized market. Krafted Ink also boasts of a portfolio of corporates who engage them for corporate gifts. Whether it’s a wedding, the birth of a child, a new home, an important birthday, all of these are events that mark lives forever and innovations from Krafted Ink ensure they are celebrated with a gift one can cherish for a lifetime!
Gladys’s journey as creative entrepreneur started in 2016 when she started the handmade gifts company at just 21 years of age. "It was basically an extension of my personality coming from my insatiable need for new authentic, aesthetically pleasing handmade articles and the fact that when I was growing up I witnessed a lot entrepreneurship going on around me" says Gladys. Her father was an artist and he ran his own business and her mother ran a lot different businesses. For those reasons, going to work at some company was not common to her because children learn what they live. Gladys developed a desire to become a business owner and she loved making things, sketching fashion designs, knitting and all sorts of crafts. However, there was a lot of stigma around creative arts not being a venture that one can thrive on, but rather a hobby. This made Gladys question her abilities to be successful with in her area of passion, especially because she was also still very young.
Fast forward to 2016, two weeks after the inception of her company, she registered the business because she told herself that she was going to be a professional who needed an office space, defying the narrative that creatives were not professional. “I wanted to do everything differently, challenge the status quo” says Gladys. For Gladys, this move catalysed the fast growth of her business. When she pitched to customers they would ask her how old she is and at the time she was 21. The follow up question would be whether she is registered, and if there was a place she operated from. Upon hearing that Krafted Ink was a registered business with an office and actual address, customers would be very impressed and fascinated by this young person who had her business affairs in order and consequently gave her an opportunity to supply them. To Gladys, maintaining a good reputation with customers was very important, and so whenever she got an opportunity she would always over deliver. From 2017 to date, she has serviced a lot of local companies with corporate gifts. These range from telecommunications providers, media houses, government ministries and NGO’s just to mention a few. She also serves individuals who want personalised and custom made gifts. The work she does has also attracted a lot of media coverage on TV, radio, magazines and newspaper articles, including a documentary on her business by a German TV magazine DW. Through her business, Gladys has received awards and recognition such as 2017 -2018 CBZ Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) finalist, 2018 PROWEB’s young business leader of the year and a nominee for the Delta Make a difference Award.
On Zimbabwe’s fashion industry and COVID-19
Gladys acknowledges that Zimbabwe as a country has been going through hard times economically which proved most difficult for the textile and clothing Industry .This has seen a number of companies closing and a number of people employed by this sector losing their jobs owing to dollarization and influx of second hand clothing imports. As a result, whenever she is shopping for textiles she never really gets to find original Zimbabwean textiles. Almost everything is imported either from China, India or Turkey. Hence the textile industry has been particularly hard hit. Imported second-hand clothing flooded the local market at a time when wages were falling and consumers were forced to seek the cheapest products available. Locally manufactured textiles and fashion designs were pushed out of the market due to high prices as a result of high production costs, and the promise of external markets never materialized.
Now with the coming of COVID-19, continuous lockdowns meant production had to stop completely for the company. Huge unsold inventory piled up and for about six months Krafted Ink had no sales either through exhibitions or through orders so it suffered a severe cash crunch. As a non-essential industry it acknowledged that the economic environment was not conducive to the sale of luxury goods. Consumer behaviour had altered, more focused on purchase of need-based essentials, a trend that is here to stay. However, Krafted Ink got an opportunity redeem itself between the month of October and December from orders from our various loyal customers and corporates who wanted birthday, anniversary and corporate gifts and till now, the company keeps getting orders every day.
As the business continues growing, Gladys believes it would benefit from access to workspaces, equipment, training and exposure to international markets. As a young entrepreneur, Gladys continues believing that the sky is the limit for her business and there are still more glass ceilings to break! To view more of Krafted Ink’s work visit them on Twitter @KraftedInk and on Instagram @kraftedink.