If you’ve seen interesting looking cylindrical wooden bags with leather straps, and thought “These are amazing, who makes them?”, well, look no further.
Inga Gubeka, a 28-year-old designer, is the brains behind what used to be an interior design brand, but since 2012 has been a contemporary lifestyle accessories manufacturer, Indalo Decor. Using wood and leather, they hand make iPad cases, backpacks, lamps, clocks and more.
“We saw a gap in the fast-moving goods market when we were still a home decor company. But I didn’t want to just make bags, I wanted to make amazing bags and I tried out the wooden ones and it worked, so that’s where it all began,” says Gubeka.
Gubeka, who studied interior design, explains that “Indalo” means “nature”. And true to the name, all their creations are handmade with wood and leather. The brand is all about luxury and eco-friendliness, a combination of contemporary and compassionate fashion.
“Because wooden bags and other lifestyle items speak to a niche market, one doesn’t necessarily buy them for practical reasons, it’s a lifestyle signifier, a piece of art, and that’s why we’re a luxury brand,” he says.
Before he had the tools he has today, Gubeka used a very laborious technique to create each unique piece. He would cut the wood with a panel saw, sand it down and then dunk it in water to soften the wood before shaping it into the bags.
“Now that we have more resources, we’re able to use a laser technique to cut the wood and this has made the process a lot quicker,” he says.
The reception from consumers and media alike has been amazing. This is not surprising because the company offers products that are innovative and cool, that set a consumer apart from others.
Creating something that’s specifically for a niche market comes with its own set of challenges. Based in Cape Town, one of the biggest challenges Gubeka faces is that a big part of his market, which include Europeans and Americans, is not around all year, and the decline in sales is quite evident in off-peak seasons.
“Indalo really garners a lot of attention from the international market and being based in Cape Town has posed a great challenge, but we have finally come up with a plan to make our products available overseas and we will see this roll-out happening within the next year,” Gubeka explains.
The company is also expanding within the country, opening their second concept store in Braamfontein at the beginning of November. This is just one part of their growth plan for the next three years.
never once did I doubt the future success of my brand
“We moved from selling in a market to having our own shop at The Watershed at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, and now we’ll be opening our second store in Braamfontein at the end of this month,” Gubeka says. “We’ve also partnered with big brands that have seen the value of our brand.”
Gubeka has plans to tap into the European market in an effort to extend the brand’s market reach, as well as plans to open shop in Durban.
“I have a ‘go big or go home’ type of mindset and when I started this I wanted it to be big and I had that vision. I was just surprised at how quickly it all happened, but never once did I doubt the future success of my brand. I think that every entrepreneur should carry with them this confidence in their product or service,” he says.
Gubeka truly believes in the power of entrepreneurship, especially in South Africa’s current economic climate. While he admits that being in business has proved to be one of the most difficult things he’s ever done, he finds great reward and fulfilment in seeing something that he created come to life. He wishes more people would let go of their fears and use their passion to create.
See some of Indalo Decor’s creations below: