Bag made of recycled materials by Innovative Waste Design (www.iwd.co.za), one of the many exciting products and companies you'll find access to on Peek
Bag made of recycled materials by Innovative Waste Design (www.iwd.co.za), one of the many exciting products and companies you'll find access to on Peek

Ceramic bowls, candelabras, handbags, chairs, jewellery or embroidered scatter cushions, no matter how creative or great your idea is, you need access to a market before there can be sustainable growth of any kind for anything remotely resembling a business. 

Erica Elk knows this all too well. The executive director of the Cape Craft & Design Institute (CCDI), which she established in 2001 has been instrumental in promoting craft and design in the Western Cape and nationally for over 15 years.

“We cannot create a market out of skills development,” she said at the official launch on February 28, 2017 of Peek, the new “shop window” for local designers and related businesses, funded by the Department of Small Business Development.

The African Traveler sandals made from shopping bags by Imprint ZA
The African Traveler sandals made from shopping bags by Imprint ZA

“Fifteen years ago we had a reputation globally for poor quality, unreliable delivery…silly pricing structures.” Design is now a massive contributor to local economies and although South Africans love international labels and imported design items, there has also been a huge shift to support local. This is not to mention the massive export opportunities. 

Keeping up with the globe, we also see the evolution of local craft and design with far more unique, desirable objects on shelves and less room for the “pity purchase”. 

Not all start-ups or artisans have access to funds for elaborate websites and marketing, and this is where Erica and her CCDI team step in. Peek takes things to a different level.

“The Peek platform is totally inclusive,” says Erica. This means that there is no curation beyond her team checking and assisting suppliers on whether they have the appropriate images and information for their products. “It’s also free and looks great.”

Facet Black Cushion by Indigi Designs
Facet Black Cushion by Indigi Designs

Peek is a search-and-connect site, which is very easy to use. As the CCDI is a non-profit organisation, the intention is for Peek to operate as the window and click though to designers or business’s own websites. Searching is made easy by category, product type, material, province, method and even colour.

To date there are 145 businesses and 780 products registered on the site. When the beta version went live in 2016, by November they already had over 35000 visitors. By launch day on February 28, 2017, the figure was almost 140000. Proof that there is great interest and need for this essential gateway.

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