Initially selling his decorative cutlery at markets, Caleb Khumalo has over the last six years Caleb Khumalo built up a wide clientele that now includes more than 200 gift shops, game lodges and guesthouses, as well as exporting to international clients. He recently moved his production base and team of six dedicated staff to the Cape Business Parks in Maitland.
How did your business start?
I was exposed to working with Fimo (a polymer) clay while working with earth clay back in 2009 in Durban. Initially I was making African tribal figurines (dolls). There was great interest in them but this did not translate into sales. Realising that customers needed functional items, I designed and developed a miniature figurine small enough to be worked as a decorative element on cutlery. I started selling in the craft markets to the general public; this gave me an idea of the items that were popular and, of course, the feedback on where to improve the quality. Interestingly gift shop owners started enquiring if I could wholesale to them, and this is when I realised that I could develop this into a serious business.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
It was out of desperation as I had only two months to get a suitable workshop. I was a subtenant in my previous workplace.
How did you find your premises?
Through an agent.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
The location is very convenient, giving good accessibility to our customers, suppliers and staff.
Being housed in a business park complex the premises have good security and there is plenty of potential
for growth in future since it’s a fairly new complex.
Who are your neighbours?
Our neighbour is a coffee shop that fixes and resells coffee-making machines.
What are the shop rental/sales prices like in this area?
It’s affordable, especially compared to rentals, say, in Woodstock or Salt River.
What is your shop foot traffic?
At the moment, our focus is on production and wholesale, so we don’t get casual passersby.
Do you have any expansion plans?
Yes, the future plan is to extend the product range to include a wider variety of tableware, gifts and homeware items.
Do you operate online as well?
We’re currently developing a new website, which will allow us to sell directly online. Hopefully this should be up and running as early as July.
What’s your most popular item?
Beaded cutlery and salad sets. I use glass beads and stainless-steel wire on good quality stainless-steel cutlery, and the clay is baked at temperatures much higher than the normal dishwasher temperature, hence all the items are fully dishwasher safe. Clients really appreciate that everything is completely functional as well as decorative.
Caleb Gifts Collection
074 524 8905
Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied