A series of amazing events, starting with me bringing a government official to Streetwires on my birthday, led to a lunch a couple of weeks later with Lauren, followed by a coffee-chat with Riaan, and next thing here I am back at my desk at Streetwires! (well, a different desk, but nonetheless!)
After spending the 6 years since I left Streetwires learning and honing digital and online skills, it just made total sense for me to come back and (hopefully) add value with these skills. I’m here part-time, as my career journey has taken me on an entrepreneurial path too – but it’s wonderful to be here again!
Coming back after all this time, I’ve noticed a lot of changes – and welcomed the familiarity of some things which have remained the same! For anyone who has experienced Streetwires, I hope one or two of these will bring a smile:-
So what has changed then?
The inside of the building – The shop is now downstairs, as is the welding workshop of Netshomi Zam. Upstairs, you’ll be greeted by the artists’ studio, the worker-bees, the admin team… (and even Riaan and his new recliner). There’s even a new, bigger kitchen with a coffee machine! The sample team now sits with the sales-team, which makes total sense (even though the sample artists turn the radio up when the sales team nags too much).
New faces – Bernadette, in accounts, is a new face for me – but a wonderful one at that! More efficiency, team-ethic and super-dooper friendliness I have not seen in a bean-counter ever before. It’s lovely to be back to be able to work with her.
Products – Well, after 6 years, it’s to be expected – but there’s so many new and amazing products to catalogue, and that’s precisely one of the things I’m busy with. It always blows my mind what can be done with some wire, a few beads and a pair of pliers.
No neighbours – With some development plans for the block we’re in, Carol Boyes has moved a few streets down. This, however does not mean there’s more parking available now (see what hasn’t changed, below!).
And what hasn’t?
The artists still call Riaan ‘Madala’ (Old man) – enough said, poor guy!
Tony – Those who know the colourful Italian mechanic from across the road with the even more colourful vocabulary (the one who can shout at a traffic cop and flirt with a lady at the same time), will be pleased to know he’s still in top form, and still stealing all the free parking in the greater Bo-Kaap area.
The technology – I’m pleased to say that the ‘spindle’ or ‘bead machine’ is still a favourite gadget with the beading ladies. For those that aren’t familiar, this gadget comprises a wire frame, a Tupperware bowl of sorts, and an empty pen casing. You’ll have to visit to find out more.
Other technology – We still have ‘The S Drive’ and ‘The Database’ – (both reverently mysteriously named labyrinths of servers, and admin/costing/recipe/CRM systems where files and photos are saved in such a way that even the FBI would have problems finding a keyring image).
Laughter and fun – Everyone still works hard, and plays hard here. The vibe is still fun, light and happy. This definitely charges my batteries after all this time. And Riaan sometimes shares his beers with me at the end of a productive week.
‘Flops’ – Products that are not up-to-scratch in terms of quality or technique are still called ‘flops’ by the more experienced artists; beaded animals sometimes have no eyes, and the odd thing gets done upside down – but with an environment of mentorship, we are all here to help and guide and that’s why I love this place.
It’s good to be back, and with an interesting time ahead – with some building development plans that I touched on earlier, we may have to look at leaving this building behind at some point. 77 Shortmarket is a heritage building, but we are still uncertain as to what the bigger plans are when the developers start next year. While we prepare to possibly pack all our memories and create new ones, we are looking for some options in terms of office, studio and shop space. If anyone knows anyone who knows someone who knows a place, give us a shout!
And come and visit, I’d love to see some more familiar faces.