The Journey of a Master Beader: Single Mom from Rural Eastern Cape makes her mark at one of Cape Town’s most dynamic craft enterprises

Nolubabalo  Komsana is a thoroughly modern woman—she Facebooks, Tweets, works a fulltime job while raising three children as a single mother, and does it all with aplomb. It’s a far cry from her life growing up in the rural Eastern Cape town of Cala. South Africa. Nobs, as she is fondly known by her colleagues, came to Cape Town, as did many of her generation, looking for work opportunities. In 2007, Nobs responded to an advertisement, placed by GGP partner, Streetwires, looking to recruit candidates to be trained in the craft of bead and wire art. Once she joined the training program, Nob’s showed a natural talent for beading and in 2009 when Streetwires once again held workshops for aspirant artists, Nobs was a natural choice as an instructor. In wire art speak, beading or “plastering” refers to the application of beads to the wire framework of a piece, the skill of the beader contributing greatly to the quality of the finished product.

ImageNobs soon became what is known as a “master beader,” someone who can apply a number of techniques, ranging from the simple to the complex, in order to produce the highest quality finish. She was soon promoted once again and became a sample beader at the company. The Streetwires sample team is made up of the best of the best, according to production manager Riaan Hanekom. “They are responsible for developing both new range designs as well as customized samples for our corporate clients. It is also their responsibility to audit materials and assist with costing the products,” he explains. As it turns out, Nobs was just getting started!

In 2012, Nobs filled in as shop manager, at the same time holding her position as sample beader while the regular shop manager was on maternity leave.  In the shop, other facets of Nob’s special talents were revealed—she is very, very organized and fantastic with people. According to Streetwires sales consultant Lauren-Joy Rosenbach, “Nobs is just such an all-rounder. She continues to surprise me every day as she becomes more and more invaluable to the team.”

Today, Nolubabalo Kumsana from rural Cala is permanently employed as Streetwires Sales Administrator. Her responsibilities include running a complex Access-based database system, managing stock control, cataloguing, customer liaison, production/sales liaison and ‘general trouble shooting’ according to Lauren-Joy. Her fluency in English, isiXhosa and Shona is a tremendous asset, making it possible for her to communicate easily with both Streetwires’ artists and customers. “Dealing with people requires a very special skills set, it requires patience, enthusiasm, a thirst for knowledge and a genuine desire to provide clients with the very best service. Nolubabalo proves the value of investing in people. She proves that education doesn’t always equal wisdom and she is an example of how attitude determines altitude.


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Asked for a quote, Nobs shyly shakes her head and says “When I came to Cape Town, I didn’t know what I would do to survive. I never thought I would be able to master beading, now I am doing many more things. I am happy because I know I am setting a good example for my children and teaching them that hard work and a good attitude means success in life.”


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