IWD – Superfluere: Upcycled Products by Colleen Deetlefs

Colleen Deetlefs is one of the founders of IWD – Superfluere, a South African Company creating products from recycled materials. Coming from a clothing and footwear background – she had a clothing factory in the early nineties before becoming a clothing and footwear buyer over a period of 13 years – Colleen knows how to create good products. Waste is a global issue, and having people that are able to turn waste into something new is a prime example of circular economy. And a circular economy is much needed to achieve better sustainability.

In the Photo: A jar from IWD – Superfluere made of up-cycled materials Photo Credit: IWD – Superfluere

Can What is the story of IWD – Superfluere?

Colleen Deetlefs: I came to a stage in my life where I felt I needed a change from buying and decided to go back into manufacturing. My life has been a winding road, but I feel that after all this time I have finally found my niche, uniqueness and passion. I am the type of person that cannot sit back and wait for things to happen; I do what I can with the resources I have regardless of how limited they may be. I am taking all the skills that I have learnt over the past 30 years and putting them toward up-cycling. I have always been someone that loves designing products based upon what I already have.

I would say that I got into this field by chance after seeing products made from old billboards in 2011. Since I already knew how to manufacture goods, I decided to give it a go. In 2013 I saw a whole pile of tyre tubes, and being the person that I am, I decided to see how I could work with them. I found my passion through these tubes. It sounds really odd, but I love seeing what I can design using tubes, while incorporating tyres and of course old billboards. I feel that by using typical waste materials to make my products I am doing my bit to help save the planet. Waste is a huge problem in Africa and the rest of the world and my belief is that if we each do our bit, it will make a huge impact overall. I just hate seeing waste go to landfill, so I try to use whatever waste I can get my hands on.

Fortunate Duzia joined me towards the end of last year in 2018. She is originally from Zimbabwe, but is now living in South Africa. She brings a new dimension to the business. We make a good team, with her strengths being training and marketing.

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What kind of products does IWD – Superfluere produce? What kind of waste do you use them?

C. D. : IWD – Superfluere is a company that designs and manufactures products using waste materials, namely tyre tubes, tyres, PVC billboards and other waste. We make bags, footwear, jewelry and home décor, such as tyre chairs and tyre tables. Furthermore, we participate in skills development training. As an entrepreneur, I like to train people to find their uniqueness and passion. My belief is that if we find our passion and uniqueness, we will achieve so much more in life. Apart from sewing, I try to incorporate other skills such as crocheting, knitting, weaving, wielding, and woodworking with the help of waste materials.

We use: Tyre tubes, tyres, pvc billboards, video cassette tapes, old cardboard and whatever other usable waste materials I can get my hands on.

In the Photo: A bag and sandals from IWD – Superfluere made of up-cycled materials Photo Credit: IWD – Superfluere

What kind of impact do you have on your community?

C. D. : By offering skills training and entrepreneurship opportunities, I feel that I am doing what I can to impact my community with the limited resources I have at the moment. What I have found is that if someone is not passionate about what they are doing, then I am wasting my time training them. Due to certain past experiences, I have since then changed the way I train.

I first get to the core of the trainee’s personality, their strengths and weaknesses, and from there I find out what they are passionate about. The other thing I have discovered over the years is that our schooling system concentrates mostly on academics, thereby leaving out more creative subjects. The course I offer is based on theory; I let the learners ”play” by being creative in their use of waste material. It is amazing how quickly they get lost in their creativity. Some learners had never even realized that they were able to be creative. This works for all age groups. It is a very unconventional way of training but somehow it motivates people to find their passion and uniqueness.

What do you think needs to be done in order to bring about more women entrepreneurs and initiatives like yours in Africa?

C. D. : I would say training but the spreading of information is also desperately needed. There are many women in communities that don’t know where to start. Their resources and knowledge are limited. I have attached my company profile in order for you to get a better idea of my vision and mission as well as where I hope to see the business in the future.

In the Cover Photo: A product from IWD – Superfluere made of up-cycled materials
Photo Credit: IWD – Superfluere

EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. 

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