Interview with magic-maker Henriette Botha.
How time flies. What feels like just the other day Henriette and myself were fellow Matie study buddies, and now she is making jewelry so incredibly beautiful I might have to sell a kidney soon to get rid of this immediate W.A.N.T. This lady has hit the ground running and if you don’t keep up you might miss out on her next best creation. I managed to soak up some precious minutes and moments with her to pick her beautiful mind. Enjoy <3
Annie: As a little girl, did you ever dream of becoming a jewellery designer?
Henriette: Not at all. I wanted to be an actress but by 16 my creativity shifted more towards design where the dreams of being a fashion designer began to form. When I went to study my parents said that fashion design wasn’t a real degree and that I first had to get a real one before I could go study fashion, so I went to study a Bcomm Law. My roommate in hostel was however studying jewellery design which was in my parents words a ‘real’ degree within the arts department so after first year I applied and was accepted to do jewellery. It wasn’t fashion, but it was close enough.
Annie: In Paris, you worked for global fashion brand, Balmain. Tell us how you landed this awesome job?
Henriette: It was completely by mistake. I urgently needed a new internship to extend my student visa as I had quit my previous one where the designer I had worked for made Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada look like a tame little lamb. I applied to all positions advertised in the design section of fashionjobs.com. When I received a phone call from a lady, who was later to be my boss, all I understood was Interview, what time and where it was. It was only when I walked into her office that I realised where I was and quickly had to message friends to find out who the head designer was at Balmain because in 2009 this fashion house was only just busy regaining fame. I sometimes still wonder what I said in this interview as it was an hour long and in French and totally one of those lost in translation situations. I walked away thinking ‘Yay I’m going to be a design intern at Balmain’. In reality I had interviewed for an internship on the business side of the fashion house and neither one of us realised until day 1 after contracts were signed that I was not qualified. It was a sink or swim situation, and I swam for dear life. So much so that when my internship came to an end my boss offered my a full time job to continue working with her as she said I was the best assistant she ever had.
Annie: Your work has been described as having an 'African flair'. Was that intentional?
Henriette: Yes. My intention of studying overseas was always to learn and absorb as much as I could so that when I came back I could share the knowledge I had gained. By the time I decided to come back there were already a few ‘finer jewellery’ brands on the rise and I wanted to stand out. I’ve always been interested in mixing different materials and developing new technique and thought why not do so with south african craft and my knowledge of design. It was a way of developing skill as well as creating employment.
Annie: You have to chose a restaurant for us to go to, anywhere in the world, tonight
Henriette: Sukiyabashi Jiro. it’s the tiniest sushi restaurant in a metro stop in Tokyo owned by a man called Jiro who I think is the only Michelin star sushi chef in the world. There’s a documentary called Jiro dreams of sushi which tells this mans incredible story.
Annie: Who are your favorite South African designers?
Henriette: I’m going to go with jewellery designers and I must say Geraldine Fenn is my current favourite, the woman is beyond talented.
Annie: Do you follow trends when designing your ranges? Expand on the process.
Henriette: I don’t really follow trends, I go with my gut on what I feel inspires me at the time and develop from there by means of a ton of research.
Annie: Describe your dream engagement ring.
Henriette: Something art deco and sparkly.
Annie: What can we expect from Henriette Botha for the rest of 2017?
Henriette: We will be launching a new collection just in time for summer.
Annie: Tell us a secret?
Henriette: But then it won't be a secret anymore:)
Cheeky, just as i remember her from Varsity days.
I am hellavu excited to see what this wonder woman will do next. She recently launched Made by Workshops which has been super popular in both Cape Town and Jozi. If you find yourself wanting to sell a kidney after reading this, I have a better solution: she is hosting a workshop next week so hurry up and get your ticket and leave your poor kidney out of this. ;) I was one of the lucky ones to secure a spot at her workshop hosted in Cape Town a couple of weeks back, and I’ve never had so much fun making a ring from scratch while sipping on bubbly and basking in her general awesomeness.
Since this interview she has launched another new venture called “Curated” – what did I tell you about keeping up with this one? Curated is an online & pop-up store in Johannesburg aimed to turn the spotlight on smaller/younger/up-and-coming brands through a celebration of design, design and more design.
Needless to say, Henriette's work is the bees knees. I salute her.