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For the 2019 World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Absa has collaborated with South African entrepreneur Inga Gubeka to create a special edition leather bag, called “Uhambo” or “The Journey” in Xhosa.
The bespoke bags have been handmade by talented seamstresses from Malawi and master craftsmen from Khayelitsha township near Cape Town. They truly showcase the best that Africa has to offer, with Inga’s dedication to sophistication and quality clear in each and every bag. Watch a short clip here as Inga works his magic bringing “Uhambo” to life.
Inga is the brains behind the luxury leather goods and lifestyle brand Inga Atelier and, in a few short years, has made the company name synonymous with style and exceptional craftmanship.
Hailing from Ngqeleni, a small Xhosa village in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, Inga knew from a young age that his future lay in creativity.
“I grew up watching a lifestyle TV programme called Top Billing, which had a DIY segment with Aidan Bennetts, and always wondered what the people who appeared on the show had studied. I enrolled at the (then) Durban University of Technology and studied interior design because I’d always known that it was what I wanted to do – I’d been making cars out of wire, for example, since I was a child,” Inga says.
Inga has made a name for himself and has garnered a slew of awards over the years, after cutting his teeth at wooden accessories brand Indalo Décor - his first foray into entrepreneurialism.
Making the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 young South Africans list in 2015
Ranking in the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 and the Forbes (USA) Top 5 Accessories Designers in Africa lists in 2016
Being named by Forbes as one of Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs of 2018. Note: Inga has also been nominated as a 2019 WEF Young Global Leader (pending confirmation).
Inga currently has six employees and a pop-up store in the exclusive suburb of Hyde Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was the first local leather goods brand to open in the center.
An important lesson he’s taken on board is that there’s a big difference between being an entrepreneur and a designer. It’s been necessary to fuse the two worlds, which has been a learning curve for a man driven by passion for his craft.
His affection for elegance and luxury is imbued in the very fabric of his creations, with what he describes as his own design DNA. “This DNA is simplicity and sophistication - minimal but practical and beautiful – and what can be called African luxury,” he states.
He has his eye firmly on taking this African luxury to the international market in the next one to five years to be able to connect with more clients that appreciate the finer things in life. That is one of his main goals, as well as looking into securing luxury corporate gifting clients and passing on much-needed skills to help create jobs – something he is already working on by hosting workshops in townships like Alexandra in Johannesburg to pass on skills such as making smaller leather items.
“My overall vision for Inga Atelier is to do what I’m doing now, but on a much bigger scale and so that I can focus on skills development to create jobs,” he finishes.
Absa Group Limited | Incorporated in the Republic of South Africa | Registration number: 1986/003934/06 | Authorised financial services and registered credit provider (NCRCP7) | JSE share code: ABG | ISIN: ZAE000255915