When Bridget Mudota left her office job in 2019 to venture into jewellery design, the reaction was considerable. Here was a highly qualified individual with a Masters in Business Administration, “giving it all up” to venture into a trade that in many parts of Africa is associated with handicrafts and roadside stalls.
However, Mudota was determined. She wanted something else from life.
“The beauty of this art is that it is therapeutic as it takes one’s mind away from the worries of life and at the same time opens up the mind to creativity,” she explained.
There is also a lot to be said for a high-end jewellery production industry in Zimbabwe. The country is blessed with copious amounts of diamonds and other gems, platinum and gold. Jewellery is a great way for any country to add value to what otherwise is exported simply as raw commodities, without any downstream benefits to the local economy.
Known as “BridgitTheJeweller” in business circles as well as on social media platforms, Mudota prides herself in making beautiful jewellery that subtly combines Zimbabwean traditions with modern trends. Her style ranges from a striking infusion of beads to jewellery that incorporates fabric, wood, seashells, gemstones, metal, strings and hooks.
Her foray into an entirely new business has paid off, thanks in large part to being able to engage with a fast-growing clientele in the diaspora, via social media. Having an MBA and the skills to run one’s own business have clearly contributed too.
Despite her wide array of textures and styles, Bridget still plans to venture into leather jewellery, not only as a means of expanding her venture but also to stretch her creativity.
“I have become very passionate about jewellery-making because it brings out the creativity in me. Also, this art has made me realize that anyone can be creative if given the opportunity,” she explained.
Having access to fashion trends via the internet has meant that she is able to regularly update on changing trends and tastes in the international market.
Bridget’s name as a jeweller and entrepreneur has become so popular in Zimbabwe that it earned her an invitation to the country’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs, where she was encouraged to showcase her skills and exhibit her products as a way of encouraging other women to venture into the business. As a result, she now has an opportunity to show that jewellery design and manufacture can be a significant income earner for the wider economy.
Mudota’s suggestion is to make sure that the engagement with a buyer is personal, as each piece has a different reaction from a potential client.
Bridget says that her clients are mostly mature professionals who love to accessorize their outfits to look good, wherever they are in the world.
Recognising that the market for local, high-end jewellery in Zimbabwe has yet to mature, she has called for jewellery making in the country to be considered as a valuable art form – and for the stereotypes around African jewellery to be broken. She would like her craft to be recognised for what it truly is: a profession well worth engaging in.