Part of my plan to take over the world includes helping my collaborators and entrepreneurs to find the best quality raw materials at the best possible prices. With the positive side affect of making and keeping Luckiest Fish products sustainable and affordable to the beautiful people of South Africa, perhaps the world.
My search for suppliers are constant. Hours of scouring the internet and making hundreds of phone calls, my efforts paid off. REB Huide and Velle (hides and skins) – Suppliers of Veg Tanned Nguni Leather and Wool , Kroonstad, Freestate.
I phoned them up and spoke to a very friendly gentleman named Eben Pieterse. “Come to visit us any day”, he said. The following day Mbonisi, my leather genius and I, jumped in the car and headed South on the N1 out of Jozi. Destination, Kroonstad, Free State. By the way, my car must have the worse litre to kilometre ratio in Africa and the word “economical” not anywhere stated in its specifications. With a carbon footprint only challenged by low-level ANC MPs’ cavalcade of black BMW X5s and metro police vehicles.
Roughly 2 hours later we had arrived, at a huge factory building in the industrial part of town. Entering from the back, we embraced the enormity of this leather tannery. We hit the motherload. Initial contact was made by a very friendly black staff member with gold teach, that came up to us and asked if he could assist, in Afrikaans. Gotta love South Africa.
We moved along to the far side of the factory to be introduced to Eben. Eben wore khaki shorts, buttoned short sleeve shirt and steel toe boots. With regards to leather, this is what the person in the know should look like. We had a long talk with Eben who meticulously took us through rows of hides in various size, thickness and colours. We explained our product ideas and he did not waste time to show us exactly what we needed. This man knew his stuff and was not shy to share his knowledge and opinions.
With specs discussed, ETAs agreed upon, paperwork and payments done and dusted, we waited for the EFT to clear and had a nice long chat with Eben, who had by now spent more than an hour with us, and not once looked like he was bored or needed to be somewhere else, he showed a genuine interest in our business and newly established partnership, I felt lucky that I found him.
Our rolls of leather were neatly packed into the car, and the next delivery scheduled. By the way, they use Courier Guy if I recall correctly, with next day delivery in Johannesburg, welcome to 2018. We said our thanks and good buys and hit the road. Success.
During the Boer War, the British built a concentration camp in Kroonstad to house women and children. The Boer War Concentration Camp Cemetery offers an emotional experience where over 2000 Boer women and children were laid to rest as a result of the British scorched earth policy.
Maokeng is an area within Kroonstad, and is occasionally used as a synonym of the town itself. It is the second-largest commercial and urban centre (110,000 inhabitants) in the Northern Free State (after Welkom), and an important railway junction on the main line from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Maokeng is Sesotho and means "place of the thorn trees (mimosa trees)
Music: Guns N' Roses, November Rain (Because they rocked Joburg)
Podcast: WTF with Marc Maron – Michael Douglas http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episode-968-michael-douglas