The people behind the brand
Paarl Basket – At its Core, is Community
By Renee Fortune, Lifestyle Content Creator
Basket weaving is an art form, expressed in the intricate ins and outs of the raw material. At Paarl Basket, that raw material is, “kooboo” – a form of rattan cane that is renowned for its durability and flexibility. In the hands of dedicated artisans, kooboo is woven into storage containers, dog beds, placemats and more. So much can be done with this humble fibre. But behind the sheer utilitarianism of it all, is a beautiful story.
The story began when a man by the name of Eduard Marais, who along with his brother, lost his sight at a young age. Prompted by his family, he attended the Institute of the Blind in Worcester, where he learnt the skill of basket weaving. During these formative years, he laid the foundation for a fully-fledged company called Paarl Basket, which was founded in 1945. And so it began.
When Marais passed away in 1974, his son JP took over the business. In 2017, the baton was passed to JP’s daughter, Caren who took over when her father suffered a stroke. With an innate appreciation for interior design, art and photography, Caren Marais is a proud brand ambassador. Paarl Basket is the epitome of a small family business with a captivating backstory.
Today, Paarl Basket employs workers from the local community who are taught the techniques of traditional basket weaving. It is a brand underpinned by strong values and a focus on skills development and job creation. These skills are passed from generation to generation.
Adam Jacobs for example, one of Paarl Basket’s most long-standing artisans, joined the company at a young age and has been honing his skills for almost four decades. Jacobs inherited his skills from his father, who worked for the family for many years. That’s a lot of basketry. A lot of talent. And certainly, a lot of patience.
“Our main focus is to infuse homes with a sense of natural, eco-friendly, conscious living. Our authentic designs are handcrafted with the highest regard for quality and sustainability,” Caren commented.
Community is the principle at the core of this burgeoning brand, located in one of the oldest towns in the Cape Winelands. Just like the Taalmonument and the old town hall, Paarl Basket is an integral part of a landscape that tells the story of conflict and peace, transition and social development.