Suzanne H. Segal
I grew up in South Africa having a love and appreciation for African craftsmanship, expertise and their extraordinary creativity. That passion was never lost when I left to pursue careers in fashion and lifestyle television production in London and later, New York and Los Angeles. Vacations back home were never without ventures to African markets in search of pieces of art and unique accessories to add to my growing collection. On one of my trips, I came across two sisters from the Xhosa tribe who were making beautiful baskets with an unusual touch of color and style.
I saw something unique in what they were doing - something special. I loved that they had taken traditional African basketry to another level by adding beading in every imaginable color to the circumference of these flat baskets. I immediately bought a small and medium one, and then agonized over getting the large as I knew it would be a headache getting back to Los Angeles where I was now living. I left without it, and one of the sisters said to me, "you'll be back because you'll wish you'd bought all three!" True to her word, I got back to Los Angeles and wished I had bought the third. Not knowing if I'd ever find the sisters again on my next annual trip home, I asked my sister to see if she could locate them and buy the large basket. None too happy about the possibility of having to be the one to travel with this oversized and inconvenient basket, she found the two sisters, bought the beautiful large basket, and brought it over to me in Los Angeles. Each year I would visit the two sisters and buy baskets to help support their business and would then give the baskets to friends. With one of my passions being interior design, I envisioned these baskets fitting seamlessly into homes across America with varying home decor styles. And with that vision and desire to support the talents of these sisters and their families, Suzanne & Zondi was created!
The Company Name
When I decided to establish my business I thought about what I'd want the name to stand for - what the business would embody as I envisioned it growing over the years. My sister and I had the privilege of having an extraordinary Zulu nanny named Hilda Zondi while growing up in South Africa. She was special in every way and to us, one in a million. She was not only there from the very beginning of our lives but long after we moved on to pursue our own goals as adults. She taught my sister and me to conduct our lives in the same way she did hers - with high standards, integrity, class, generosity and love.
I wanted my business to be defined by a combination of her beautiful and unique African spirit, that touched our lives forever, and my sense of style and aesthetics.
All the baskets are intricately handwoven by five women who belong to the Xhosa tribe in Eastern Cape, South Africa. They started weaving baskets over 12 years ago to help support their families. These exceptionally talented women all work together to create one-of-a-kind baskets using grasses and reeds that they split into fine strips to weave their masterpieces. No dyes are used. Each woman tells her own story with her individual design and earth tone color combinations. The two sisters, who Suzanne first met, are the daughters of one of the weavers. They are skilled in beading and wanting to create something distinctive and elegant, take these handwoven baskets one step further by working their magic to the rims in every imaginable color combination. Thousands of beads are strung together for just one medium sized basket and over ten thousand for the larger ones. The colors reflect the cultures of various African tribes - orange is characteristic of the Ndebele, gold, black and brown for the Xhosa, and blue captures the identity of the Zulu people.
When asked what these baskets mean to these women they simply reply, "LOVE."
Each Suzanne & Zondi basket has been specially handwoven and beaded in sizes and colors according to Suzanne's specifications.
Consultants South Africa & USA
Logistics and Quality Control, "The Angel"
Petra Van Essen
Logistics and Quality Control, "Seraph"
Nancy H. Segal
Treasurer, "The Facilitator"
Legal Consultant, "The Grammarian"
Retail Expert, "Head Cheerleader"
Printing, "The Techie"