Who says shopping on safari has to be limited to a tiny curio shop selling knick-knacks like post cards and key rings? At Singita, the shopping experience continues to stay on the cutting edge of luxury, boasting well-made items with distinctive character. Stylish resort-wear and safari apparel, art, décor, designer jewellery, decadent spa products (and even the basic necessities), make the Singita Boutique & Gallery a sought-after retail destination.
Kim Peter, General Manager and Buyer at Singita Trading Stores, has lent her expertise to managing, procuring and designing for the Boutique & Gallery for the past 19 years. Here she shares great insight into what makes the shopping experience at Singita truly matchless:
Talk us through how the Boutique & Gallery has progressed over the years?
The Boutique & Gallery started off as very tiny parts of the Singita Ebony and Boulders lodges. In our effort to evolve with the needs of our guests, we then decided to build a beautiful “home in the African bush”, which is the current Boutique & Gallery at Singita Sabi Sand. Thereafter, when Singita Lebombo Lodge was opened, we created a similar experience for Singita Kruger National Park. Singita then moved into East Africa, and the Boutique & Gallery followed with showrooms at Singita Sasakwa and Faru Faru lodges, and Sabora Tented Camp.
What do you love most about your job?
I love that I’m involved in the challenging business aspect, as well as the creative facet of the Boutique & Gallery. I’m extremely proud of the unique shopping experience that has been created at Singita.
What’s your best shopping-on-safari tip?
If you love it, buy it! You’re not likely to find these rare and bespoke items again. Also, they’ll be special reminders of your trip once you’re back home.
Which of the community-crafted goods are most popular amongst the guests?
When each lodge is opened we find a colour palette and design that best suits the style of that specific lodge. We then commission a group of very talented Zulu women to weave Singita’s signature handwoven placemats. Each design is really a piece of art in itself, which is why guests appreciate them so much.
How do you maintain good relationships with the people you’ve partnered with in the community, and how do the partnerships work?
We believe in rewarding financially for craftsmanship delivered, but more importantly, we don’t believe in encouraging or purchasing sub-standard work. In this manner a very high level of artistic quality and expertise is maintained.
How do you think the local communities are benefiting from this socially conscious portion of the Boutique & Gallery enterprise?
We regularly go into the local communities to see what traditional craftsmanship already exists, and then promote and direct these skills into marketable ideas and products. This also refines skill levels to match worldwide design standards. These talents can also be passed on to other family members to assist in future opportunities and to support (what are oftentimes) single-bread-winner families.
In Tanzania we have worked with Shanga, a successful, socially-conscious, for-profit enterprise, which employs people with disabilities. The beautiful, hand-made glassware produced through this project is used in some of the Singita lodges and also sold in the Boutique & Gallery. Shanga reinvests the profits made from Singita and other buyers into the development of new products and further employment of disabled people.