‘Empties put bread on my table’

WORKING HARD … Nicolene Kautjituavi redecorates empty bottles and turns them into masterpieces which she sells to make a living.Photo: Contributed

The famous quote “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has become a vital part of the existence of Nicolene Kautjituavi (49).

The self-employed entrepreneur’s daily survival consists of redecorating empty bottles and turning them into masterpieces which she sells to make a living. Born in Windhoek and currently based at Gobabis, Kautjituavi started her small creative business in 2016 in which she upcycles glass bottles, turning them into pieces of home decor.

Through this endeavour, Kautjituavi says she is able to earn an income to financially support herself, her family and buy supplies.

She often sells her products at trade fairs, expos and local trade markets. Kautjituavi says this also provides a platform to do something good, by recycling glass bottles.

She is particularly pleased to be able to find a way to re-use glass bottles so that they do not just lie around as waste.

“I often use glass bottles such as wine and cider bottles, which I collect at a local bar. Firstly, I would clean them and then decorate them into beautiful unique home decorative objects,” Kautjituavi says.

Kautjituavi uses various craft materials, including wool, rope, craft paper, glitter and other materials she buys at a craft shop. “I usually make my own designs or I make them according to my clients’ request. My customers are mostly tourists from Germany and America. This makes me very proud of myself as my unique products are reaching other countries. Women from my community and other parts of the country often also buy from me,” she says.

Kautjituavi says she is currently hard at work sharing her knowledge and skills with others. She believes in the importance of giving back and being an inspiration to others. “I’m planning to start arts and craft afternoon classes for women, unemployed youth and primary school pupils she says.

One customer, Sally van Zyl, says Kautjituavi’s DIY bottle crafts are the cutest ways to repurpose glass vessels.

She says Kautjituavi’s pieces add aesthetic appeal to her home.

“The bottles can add a unique, rustic and colourful touch to any area. I like the idea to reuse and recycle materials that would otherwise go to waste. Using glass bottles in this way can be a sustainable and eco-friendly option. She can decorate any theme that will make your area be more friendly and peaceful. I hope more people would learn from her and do something that would help bring an income for them. This is something that inspires others,” Van Zyl says.

Kautjituavi says it is important to keep in mind that when using glass bottles, safety should be considered. She says the bottles should be placed in a way that they won’t fall over and cause injury or damage to people or property.

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