Since 1991, this incredibly creative designer with a sculptural flair and an eye for the unusual, has taken the global homeware market by storm with her distinctive designs and must-have tableware pieces.
Carrol Boyes’ career path started out in the world of academia, as an English and art teacher - she was an arts graduate with a major in sculpture from the University of Pretoria. However, her dream was always to be an artist and one that could earn enough money to survive from the work she produced. When she turned 35 years old, she realised that she would either have to do something practical to realise her ambitions, or live with regret for the rest of her life. Fortunately for the design world, she chose to do the former. She left her teaching post in 1990 and, ever the pragmatist, paid off her bills and debts leaving her with enough money to survive for six months. During that time, she started her fledgling business, designing products that were not only things that people needed, but which were also unique and fun to use.
"Determination is essential. People do not believe in artists, nor do they believe that a sculptor can also be an entrepreneur."
Her first designs were quirky cutlery items, those traditionally plain and boring tableware items, but in Carrol’s design hands, turned into functional yet beautiful and fun-to-use design pieces. Initially, she took a very conservative approach to building the business, buying only the materials and equipment she could afford. The business gradually grew as the word spread about the unique and beautiful design pieces being produced by Carrol, achieving 100% growth year on year for the first six years. Her business thrived on the back of the new and uniquely idiosyncratic design products she was introducing into the homeware and gifting marketplace, loved by consumers and home/lifestyle magazine editors alike.
"If you have a good business model, stick to it."
By 1992, the company was expanding and required the construction of a manufacturing facility which was located on the farm run by her father and brother in Limpopo province. This new expansion plan required a new approach to managing the business, and Carrol introduced a new management team and general manager into the company to oversee the new production process. As the company grew, so did Carrol’s desire to take on a different role in the business, seeing her step back from the day to day management, and move into the creative direction and global promotion role that she fulfils today.
Much of her time these days is spent travelling around the world, promoting the Carrol Boyes brand, looking for new global marketing opportunities and exploring further the growing export market for her products. Today, she has branded Carrol Boyes stores across South Africa, three in overseas markets including one in New York, a great online retail shop, and global stockists of her growing design range. However, she still does all her own designs, whilst at the same time, building up a new team of young and talented artists who are learning the business from the bottom up and bringing new sources of inspiration with them.
"Exporting is one of the biggest challenges. It requires endless patience and persistence, the resilience to compete in a world in which you are completely unknown, and more financial resources than you ever anticipate."
The future is focused on developing the growing global marketplace for Carrol Boyes design products, and opening more branded stores to sell and promote the Carrol Boyes design philosophy and experience.