Raphepe Glass Arts
Raphepe Glass Arts - Individually designed, hand-sandblasted glassware.
Sustainable, beautiful, glassware for the hospitality and corporate organisations who care.
Desiree Raphepe is the proud founder of Raphepe Glass Arts. She started the company, as Maud Glass Arts, in 2003 when she was retrenched after 20 years in the corporate world, as an administrator and project manager.
The shock of retrenchment was a wake-up call for Desiree and the motivation to not only become the master of her own destiny but additionally to extend this empowerment and security to her community. As Desiree explains:
“When I started this company years ago, my goal was to change lives. Not only for my family’s livelihood but also the community around us. I grew up in a family that had a very strong entrepreneurial spirit. My parents each had their own businesses, apart from their regular jobs. This was instilled in them by my grandparents who also had businesses. But what always stood out for me was the fact that none of those businesses survived, after the founders’ passing, mainly because they lacked the financial and management education to ensure longevity.”
This observation has led to Desiree being a lifetime learner, constantly seeking out opportunities to learn new skills that she intends passing on to the generations following her, beginning with her oldest grandson, Bakang.
“I have not only been training my grandson in every aspect of the business but, more importantly, the vision and greater purpose to ensure that Bakang fully embraces why the company has to outlive both of us. To ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.”
Learning the art of glass sandblasting, stained glass décor, fusing and slumping glassware began as a hobby. However her natural, creative talent was soon recognized and Desiree was encouraged to put her talent to work.
As with most entrepreneurial journeys there were numerous false starts and, sadly, Desiree has had to put aside the more niched stained glass and slumping aspects of glass art and focus on the sandblasting which proved to more viable, in particular catering to the hospitality and corporate sectors.
This is obviously a highly contested market with imports and production line automation increasing becoming the norm. Desiree’s point of difference is her passion for the personalized design and hand crafting of the glass wear designs. Whilst this makes their production process slower, it provides much needed work for members of the Itsoseng community in the North West Province of South Africa.
The workshop is presently located at Desiree’s home and this is also where the personalized training of community members takes place. Desiree recently secured the support of I Am An Entrepreneur (IAAE), in a locally held expo competition, and hopes that this will assist her in growing the business to the point where she will be able to invest in larger premises, more equipment and multiply the training and employment benefit to the local community.
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- Outside South Africa