Route 360 will be the first route in South-Africa that is a non-geographical route. It is a route that consist of packages for the visitors of Stellenbosch, which include cultural activities that were previously only accessible to local inhabitants. Stellenbosch 360 created Route 360 to provide a platform for previously disadvantaged communities who generally lack tourism infrastructure to enter tourism through cultural activities, using inherent talent and existing resources. Through blogging I would like to introduce these local inhabitants, in this blog you will meet Portia. Portia has big ambitions.
Portia Nzanzana, 41 years, was born in Port Elizabeth. Portia is a jewelry designer and dreams of her own art gallery. Portia moved to the Western Cape in 1984, because there was a strike and the people were fighting for education. Her parents decided that Portia would go to school in the Western Cape. Portia never finished high school, she came unto grade 10, and then decided to go to the fashion design school. After one year she had to quit fashion designing because of finance and Portia started working, “You know back then, you needed people to guide you, it was difficult because of costing’s. And so I ended up just making money, first part-time, but soon I ended up working fulltime.”
For many years Portia went from one job into the other. She was a packer at Stellenbosch winery, she found a job in several shops and finally ended up as a cleaner. But in 2004, Portia met the right person who could bring her back on the path of her passion, designing. While Portia was working at a farm, she met a lady with a designing shop in Cape Town. They started talking and together decided that Portia could help her with designing. Portia wasn’t into fashion designing for a long time, and when she started designing again it was great fun and a great release. Portia was designing necklaces, bracelets, earrings and many other things, it was the place where Portia realized her real passion in life, designing. But there was also another passion that raised in Portia, being business-minded lady, she longed to have her own shop. And so Portia decided to pull out and do her own thing.
In 2006, Portia started to design her own products and took it with her to the Ikhaya Trust centre in Kayamandi, the manager decided that it was good and gave Portia a place to sell her products. While selling her own products, Portia had to share the shop with four other ladies. Tourists used to come to this place and business was going well. Unfortunately, in 2009, Ikhaya Trust centre started a renovation of the building, but arranged an alternative for its crafters and Portia and other people were moved to a container. Here, business wasn’t going well.
Portia realizes very well that since she started to work for herself in 2006 she started growing. “I can see that I was growing, I could finally move forward. I didn’t want to stay low all the time, I want to reach something in life. But I realize that I can’t move fast, you have to take small steps forward, going up slowly.” At the moment Portia is working in a small shop, which is not hers, she feels stuck, but realizes that earning money is important. She wants her children to finish their education, and her daughter is now going to Boland College.
“I’m looking forward to have my own shop, to have an art gallery.” Portia’s dream is an ambitious but clear one and she knows where she is aiming for. “I want a place where tourists can come, I want them to come to one place.” And so, Portia’s dream is not one for herself, but also one for the other crafters in Kayamandi. Portia wants an art gallery where all people of Kayamandi can show their products, not only her own products will be there. “But the problem is that most people don’t want to focus on business, they want to work for someone, which is difficult. They don’t know that their stuff is valuable. For a shop to function you need someone who says, okay we will focus on this and this is the plan.” Portia knows that she is capable of taking this role in the business, and that is why she won’t give up. Portia does not just want a normal craft shop, she is clearly calling it an art gallery. “I’m a designer, I do art. I don’t say that I am beading stuff, no I design. The reason why I say so: plenty of stuff is not peoples own. You know what I do is very simple, but when you start designing, you come up with new ideas and you bring new kind of products on the market all the time.” The art gallery will show products that you cannot find anywhere else, and therefore Portia would like to have a website on the internet. People need to know what is going on in Kayamandi, tourists must be able to find out why they should go to the art gallery in Kayamandi, and so Portia would like to start advertising on the net. Recently she got her first tablet and the first steps are taken.
Portia would like to make sure that this art gallery will be there in a few years. “It will boost the economy and hopefully we can make some money.” And then the next step will be going online, going national and international. “I hope that someday people can order my products online. But by that time the gallery must be busy and we must be making money.” And all the while, Portia would like to offer her own family something she never got, which is good education so that they will be able to reach for their dreams in life.