Lilly Loompa: Upcycling Waste and Making Beautiful Homeware in South Africa

Waste could be turned into a huge opportunity for those who have an open mind. Lizl Naude CEO and Founder of Lilly Loompa is one of those as her company works to upcycle waste and turn it into beautiful homeware.

Lizl sees well beyond the objects or the materials that were thrown away and Lilly Loompa is a great example of how circular economy should be.

In this interview with Impakter we will find out more from Lizl about how Lilly Loompa and how she is planning to “Hipcycle” South Africa.

What inspired you to start Lilly Loompa?

Lizl Naude: I grew up in the valley-town of Paarl, in the Winelands of the Western Cape, South Africa:  I was influenced by the natural beauty surrounding me; the smell of the wet vineyards after a rainstorm, the purple mountains and the wide expanse of the night-sky.  I married my husband Ashley in 2002 and this year we will celebrate 17 years of marriage; we also have two beautiful girls. We have always had an entrepreneurial drive and started several companies over the years.

In 2003, shortly after we got married, I had a scary accident where I fell off the stairs of our duplex apartment. I nearly broke my back and was stuck in bed for 6 weeks to recover. I became so bored and started making beaded jewellery while sitting in bed. When I went back to work, my colleagues started ordering from me and so Lilly Loompa, the mother company was born! Since then, the business has taken on many forms in Interiors, Construction, etc.

Lilly Loompa Hipcycled Homeware was started purely out of necessity in 2016. My family and I traversed through rough financial terrain for a good few years.  I remember a specific time when out of desperation, I literally went on my knees and prayed to God: “Please give me an idea!”, and when I opened my eyes, He showed me waste. That was His answer…and I have been building this business ever since!


In the photo: Lizl Naude presenting her products. Image Credit: Lilly Loompa

How do you make your beautiful homeware from trash?

L.N. : We create our homeware through our process of hipcycling, which is essentially upcycling discarded waste and transforming it into desirable products that would complement your home. We collect waste from residential estates and waste management companies. The items range from small storage holders to lamps and table top accessories. All materials are carefully sourced from waste and sustainably reimagined as beautiful, yet purposeful products. Eco-friendly, handcrafted and 100% South African, each Lilly Loompa piece, once trash, is now a meaningful piece of treasure.

My life’s purpose is RESTORATION. My product is symbolic of that. My family and I were literally on the rubbish heap and got an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. What I like about our products is the fact that it gets a second lease on life. And the second life is much more significant than the first!

In the photo: Lizl Naude working on one of her pieces. Image Credit: Lilly Loompa

How many clients have you had so far? How much has this number has changed during the last couple of years?

L.N. : I estimate about 30-35 clients. I currently supply different stores and outlets across South Africa. My retail clients range between 10-15 currently and then I sell privately to customers as well.  I have been running for two years now, and this has substantially increased from having only 2 in the first year.

In the photo: Some of the products made by Lilly Loompa. Image Credit: Lilly Loompa

What kind of impact do you have on your community? Is what your activity the ultimate example of a circular economy?

L.N. : I would love my business to have a greater impact than it has currently. The biggest need my community has right now employment, as there is a lack of employment. Poverty and crime are on the rise and people need hope and solutions. I believe my business can play a big part in this. I see my business creating hope through job creation and skills development. I would go as far as to say I would rather want to help create entrepreneurial thinkers, than just employees seeking a salary.

Our product is a great example of the circular economy as the end product becomes a usable item again, and it can be used for much longer than the original intention!

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What do you think needs to be done to have more entrepreneurs – especially women – and initiatives like yours in Africa?

L.N. : Entrepreneurship should be taught at school. Kids should be taught to think like problem solvers instead of studying to become employees. We are too reliant on finding a salary-paying job. I would like to see government agencies become more practical in their assistance offered to entrepreneurs. It sometimes feel that they don’t understand the hustle that entrepreneurs go through on a daily basis. Sometimes the inequality is difficult to get over. Not just gender equality, but economic inequality, due to the injustices of the past. But, I have decided to continue pushing and driving my business to help address the injustices, instead of complaining about it!

In the photo: Lizl Naude. Image Credit: Lilly Loompa

What are your thoughts about the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)?

L.N. : We were given one EARTH, and totally messed it up! Now we need serious intervention and these goals will guide us. For me and my company, PEOPLE come first. I would like my company to contribute by creating opportunities for people to reach their full potential. So I think the SDG 8 will apply here. Secondly, but not less important, I want my company to play a vital role in reducing the waste to landfill and compliment SDG 13. We want people to enjoy the products that we design and produce and our goal is to educate people about reducing waste through that!

In the Cover photo: Lizl Naude Working on a new piece. Image Credit: Lilly Loompa

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

About the Author /

Alessandro is the General Manager of ImpakterUP and the Tech Editor of Impakter. He joined Impakter in 2016 after working in the field of privacy law. Alessandro is a Law (Italy) and Political Science graduate (USA) and has always been interested in tech solutions that could help the environment.

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