For Women’s Month, we are profiling inspiring women who are making a difference in Africa. We’re bringing you innovators, creatives, entrepreneurs and influencers whose stories of success will inspire you all through August.
Karin Rae Matthee’s love for jewellery began at Stellenbosch University. She completed a semester at the Pforzheim Hochschule in Germany after getting her BA Fine Art (specialising in Jewellery and Metal Techniques) and drew inspiration from her South African and German familial heritage to launch Dear Rae in 2010. Her passion for empowering and employing South Africans has been a driving force in the business.
What was your first ever job?
I have always been my own boss. I would have to say my first job ever was working for myself as a newspaper deliverer on my bicycle. I was about ten years old.
When you were a little girl you wanted to be…
I wanted to be an architect or a marine biologist. I loved doing scientific experiments.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I usually have a good stretch in bed and then jump into the shower.
What’s your power outfit?
Definitely sneakers with my vintage Levi jeans and a tight black polo neck for some “take me seriously” energy.
What’s one thing that is always in your handbag?
Three different types of lip balms and my surf key for my car.
Current favourite jewellery piece?
A pair of secret earrings from our new “Rumi” collection. We are launching it in September – So keep your eyes peeled.
The highlight of your career so far?
Establishing my own creative studio and shop, and creating a space to engage and collaborate with others that reflects a culture that I am proud of.
Best piece of advice you’ve received from another woman?
Show up as your true self in everything that you do.
Who were your role models growing up?
My Oma Rae definitely made a huge impression on me. She was wise, truthful and brave. I grew up in a tight-knit family of four and they have all taught me different lessons that I still use today.
What does it mean to be a woman in this industry?
The luxury jewellery industry is quite male dominated and it can be rather intimidating to set up business connections as a woman. When I first started Dear Rae, many suppliers told me that I looked like a little school girl. I have worked very hard to be taken seriously in the industry.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Running your own business can be a very lonely experience. I have worked very hard to develop a community of incredible people around me and I have a huge amount of respect, trust and admiration for those that are close to me in my work and play.
Any calming mantras you say to yourself before a stressful meeting?
If I feel very overwhelmed, I do a quick session of 4,6, 8 breathing – It calms down the sympathetic nervous systems and really helps slow down your heart rate. Generally, I just remind myself that everything will happen as it should, even if things don’t work out as I hoped. There’s always a lesson to be learnt.
What advice would you give women trying to get into this business?
Be original and truthful in everything that you do. Only then will you create something that you are truly proud of.