Thandie Dowery shares the inspiration behind jewelry brand Nomi Handmade

Local designer Thandie Dowery credits her mother as the driving force that inspired her to launch her successful jewelry brand Nomi Handmade in 2015.

Thandie Dowery, founder of Nomi Handmade. Source: Supplied

The South African brand specializes in striking ready-to-wear jewelry made from boldly colored shweshwe fabric, rope and other textured materials.

Dowery reveals how she built her business, sharing that while she followed her dream, it was mostly because of her mother’s encouragement. “I started this to celebrate my mother, Nomgcobo, who also inspired my company name. She was a significant influence on me and continues to be. She also taught me how to work hard and smart and to do something with very little.” said the contractor.

She adds, “Society pushes us to enter the job market, not to pursue our passion. So being able to listen to the voice inside you, follow your heart, and break away from the path that is most Borrowing takes a lot of courage. Many might not believe in you, and some might outright try to talk you out of it. You just need to believe you are capable, prepare, and show yourself as passionate as possible.

The designer says she is grateful to her mother for instilling this wisdom in her.

Multicultural brand

Dowery’s journey as a jewelry designer began when she tried her hand at sewing Shweshwe fabrics. “I had fabric scraps from a previous textile project I had attempted and I knew I couldn’t waste it. But being a minimalist at heart, I would never wear such bold prints. And so I thought, why not accessorize with this? I played with rope and fabric, and made my first pieces after a lot of trial and error.”

She remembers her friends literally removing the pieces of her body to try on. “That’s when I knew maybe I was onto something,” she says.

Nomi Handmade prides itself on being a multicultural brand with roots in the Sotho culture and a South African-American designer working behind the scenes. Nomi also means “delicious” in Hebrew, a name Dowery’s mother, Nomgcobo, took after putting down roots in New York and finding support in the Jewish community there.

Hoping to show how she lives this ethos and why doing what you love is crucial to happiness and success, Dowery invited workwear company Sweet-Orr for an insider look at her world in the part of the brand’s #LoveWhatYouDo series of video campaigns.

Amanda P. Whitten