Founder and owner of Virginia Crafts, Tshepo Mokoena, shows off his art.
Mokoena’s love of interior decor started in 2019 while he was working for a construction company as an intern.
In 2020, Mokoena established Virginia Crafts nestled in Mokopane, Limpopo, to design furniture from recycled tree logs.
He invested his own money to start a business on unutilized land that his family owned.
He initially wanted to use the land to open a restaurant, but he changed his mind because he had no way to raise the capital for it.
He explained that he happened to stumble upon a hidden gem of art and nature from cutting, burning and taking pictures of cutdown tree logs to discover an enchanting language spoken by nature.
“It’s a language we could bring to life on your walls to connect people with nature,” he said.
The crafter would travel to different towns and houses to ask for fallen tree logs and store them at the plot.
“Collecting different types of trees really opened my eyes to the potential of the project and I hired a relative of mine to help me cut tree logs. I would take pictures of the logs and go through the pictures when I got home. To my surprise, I saw different messages in these pictures and I thought to myself that I could design something using the different shapes I saw,” he said.
Seeing the different shapes, even including a heart shape, made him realize how nature speaks to man.
“I realised how rare this was and that nature truly speaks to us, we just need an eye and ear to listen to it,” he said.
Mokoena added that another business idea was born while cutting tree logs for furniture. The idea of wallpaper artwork started to take shape in his head.
“Since the production of furniture require bigger machines, we decided to rather continue to make wallpaper and small side tables. We will still make furniture using the money earn from the wallpaper,” he said.
He has since been selling A4 sized wallpaper artwork to test the market he’s most likely to attract.
“I had to do this because this is a different type of business and art. Each wallpaper has a message that must resonate and connect with people. Now I’m confident enough about the quality and messages of my to put it out there and see it talk to people,” he said.
He said this piece of art he’s designing brings nature into people’s homes, they don’t necessarily have to go out to connect with nature.
This newly found business has since seen Mokoena creating an employment opportunity for one person. He also hopes to employ the youth in Mokopane once his business grows bigger.