‘Sisters are doing it for themselves’…

Somerset West sisters, Leigh Swart and Bronwyn King.

For Somerset West sisters Bronwyn King and Leigh Swart, an opportunity to teach Bronwyn’s daughter about the important contribution that female entrepreneurs make to South Africa’s economy has unintentionally inspired the two moms to start their own business instead.

But now the siblings are using that same business to inspire other women to tell their life story in the most unique way.

“We never really thought about turning Dandelion Jewellery into a business venture,” says Bronwyn, as she explains how the idea to help people tell their life story through a jewellery piece came to fruition.

Dandelion Jewellery sells glass lockets called “my story” containing charms that appear to float inside the locket, on either silver-plated or leather neckpieces, with charms representing celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries, professions such as teaching, and hobbies like gardening. Birthstones can also be added to the customisable lockets.

“All of this started as a means to empower my 13-year-old daughter by teaching her about entrepreneurship. However, the more I started researching entrepreneurs, the more I became interested in taking on the challenge of starting my own business.

“As women, we all have interesting stories to tell and have faced different challenges along the way. Our vision was to give women from different backgrounds a voice to tell their story through the charms they choose to house in their locket,” she adds.

“For one woman, surviving cancer may be the story they want to share with the world, and thus they would opt to wear the well-known pink ribbon charm in their locket.

“For another, their ability to do something they love again, such as swimming or dancing, after many years of focusing on everyone else’s needs, may be part of their unique story of learning to love themselves again. Every one of us have a story to tell, and each story is different, but still unique.”

Bronwyn is no stranger to the twists life can throw into the story we may have scripted for our own lives. Five years ago she found herself raising her eldest children on her own while keeping the home fires burning too.

Today Bronwyn is happily married and a stay-at-home mom to three youngsters: 13-year-old Bryony, 10-year-old Caleb and four-year-old Eli. She admits she has always been fascinated by entrepreneurs and once owned a ballet studio in Somerset West.

Leigh, who has worked in the hotel and travel industry for just short of 20 years, is a people’s person who thrives on engaging with others and building relationships. She is a mom to Jesse, seven, and Isla, six.

Still in the early stages of their venture, Bronwyn and Leigh can be found at markets such as the Lourensford Twilight Market and the Vergenoegd Market in Somerset West, as well as the Blaauwklippen Family Market.

“With Christmas around the corner, we are finding a lot of customers interested in sourcing something special as a gift for their family and friends, and we have a large range for our customers to choose from and ensure they select something of significance with sentimental value.”

While their future plans include opening an online shop and participating in pop-up store opportunities in various malls, they are mostly looking forward to focusing on what is most important to them – family.

“Our business is built on the idea of family and empowering women, in particular mothers, to find a way to be both mothers and business women,” says Bronwyn.

“I look forward to one day having the option of a flexible work schedule, being able to catch my breath and be a stay-at-home mom, but still be able to connect with people through our business and learn new things along the way,” says Leigh.

For Bronwyn, this venture allows her to bring back balance into her life. “My husband and kids come first, but I want to keep the balance too. Dandelion Jewellery allows me to run my own business, to empower other women and still be present at my children’s sport’s matches.”

Asked about how they have managed to separate their familial connection from running a business – a stressful affair on the best of days – the siblings laugh and say: “Well, we do it by being real, having a sense of humour and just enjoying the journey.

“We’re very different people, but easily share how we feel. When we started, we often bounced ideas off each other and still do.”