Christine was raised on a cattle farm in Namibia and she completed her school years in Otjiwarongo. She never had needlework as a subject at school, but being the only daughter, she spent precious time with her mother observing her making pillows and “bulsakke”.
A Business is Born
Yet it wasn’t until the owner of a rabbit-hair business invited her along to show her products at the Bloemfontein agricultural show that Christine’s handiwork showed signs of becoming a larger business. Initially, she was very nervous about this rather big step – however, she took the leap and loading her wagon with a handful of products she went off to the show. Her products were received well, and over the years the public has gotten to know the value of natural and pure goose down products. Meeting with people all over the country at shows and seeing relationships grow from these meetings was a wonderfully refreshing time during those busy years. Christine still fondly remembers this time as a blessing – one that she will surely cherish for years to come.
She started the business with great enthusiasm and some of her savings – with no sign of budgets or extra money. She would start by buying one roll of material, creating her products, selling them and starting over again by buying another roll of material. She had started the business on her own, rising before the sun came up and putting all her energy and efforts into it. Soon her husband made a cosy little room available for her on the farm where she could work and nurture her love for down products. It was a simple setup, but as the demand and the profits increased – it became clear that she would need to expand.
Christine employed her first seamstress Jeanetta Swartz, affectionately known as Sassa, in Afrikaans. Soon another room was added and two extra employees joined the thriving little business. Beatrice Lavens manages the washing and stuffing work, whilst Johanna Jansen, who is hearing-impaired, is the second seamstress. All three come from the area and are employed full-time by the business. Having had some needlework background when they originally joined the business, it formed a great foundation for further training and experience. This Hex Valley Down products team work together extremely well, and Christine has the greatest peace of mind to leave the business in their capable hands should she need to go away for a couple of weeks each year.
The business has undergone wonderful developments and growth, with many facets changing and some staying exactly the same as the years have gone by. For example, for the first 12 years Christine bred her own geese, collecting the down from them. Later, it became clear that it would be better to acquire her stuffing from local farmers on a continuous basis. She has built trustworthy relationships with these farmers over time, and it’s a great joy to work together and allow her business to support growth in South Africa.
The Legacy Continues
The most exciting change however, must be when Christine’s only daughter, Annemien, joined the business. Annemien’s energetic and joyful approach to life has added greatly to the business which she now co-manages especially in the area of marketing, networking with future clients and dealing with the finances. Hex Valley Down-products has now truly become a family business, and we look forward to seeing the legacy continue.
Down products are timeless. We’re excited about our products and they lie extremely close to our hearts. With the business in full swing, and having grown so much over the past years – it gives us great joy to share something so precious to us with those around us.
Christine participates annually in the Bloemfontein Arts festival and agricultural show, as well as Bothaville, Home Makers’ Expo and Decorex in Cape Town, planning to expand these to include other popular shows and festivals in South Africa. Be sure to stop by and say hello!