Artist’s Name: Sentwali Amen-Ra and Ashenafi Abayomi
Name of Brand: Siwatu Jewelry
Artist’s Age: 27 & 29 respectively
Artform: Jewelry making
Facebook: Siwatu Jewelry
Twitter: Siwatu Jewelry
Why do you do what you do?
We wanted to be our own boss instead of working for others.
When did you realize a passion for what you do?
I’m not sure exactly when, but I have been passionate about making jewelry since I was a little girl. Ashenafi’s passion was sparked when he saw me making jewelry.
What is your educational background?
We were both training to become navigational officers but we left before completing the programme to pursue our dream of becoming entrepreneurs.
Have you encountered people who have been skeptical about your dreams?
Yes we have. Some of our friends and relatives were very skeptical in the beginning, but as they saw how passionate and driven we were, and the quality of our work, they began to support us.
How did you initially react to those people and how do you act towards them now?
We understand that people tend to project their own fears and insecurities on others; especially those they care about. So we didn’t take it to heart. We just held our focus on our goals.
What are some of the fears that you face even today?
We sometimes had those moments where we feared that we made the wrong choice by quitting school and our jobs to start our own business. But that fear faded once we saw the true potential of our business.
How do you deal with those fears?
We don’t allow ourselves to sit in our fear. Once a negative thought occurs, we switch to a positive alternative. At first it was difficult to do that but with practice, it now requires much less effort to stay positive.
How do you work? What is the method to your ‘madness’ and how do you filter your creativity?
We just go with the flow. Designs just come to mind at random times. There’s no specific method when it comes to our creativity.
What role do you believe “the artist” has in society? / How do you feel your artform has the power to benefit society?
Artists have the power to influence the masses. Based on the feedback we receive from our customers, our work has brought happiness and love to so many.
Out of all your work, which piece resonates the most with you?
The sterling silver aventurine rope ring.
What elements of your career bring you the most stress?
Balancing so many roles between the two of us.
The word “Ubuntu” means “I am because we are”; how have you seen that reflected in your own life?
Well, Siwatu Jewelry thrives because of that principle. If it were not for myself and Ashenafi’s excellent team work, this business would crumble.
How has another artist or creative supported you to pursue your passion?
A number of creatives have offered us support in many different ways. From collaborating with us on different projects, to just offering us advice and encouraging us to keep going.
What is some advice that you would give to anyone who is trying to walk the same path as you?
Don’t get too comfortable and complacent. Keep moving and stay outside of your comfort zone and you will see how quickly you will soar. Never make your choices based on fear.
“We understand that people tend to project their own fears and insecurities on others; especially those they care about. So we didn’t take it to heart. We just held our focus on our goals.”
~ Sentwali Amen-Ra and Ashenafi Abayomi