I was born and raised in Warwickshire in the English Midlands and visited Africa during my gap year following the completion of my studies at Oxford Brooks University, at the young age of 21. I spent just under a year working in the remote lodges and camps of Zimbabwe, where I met the love of my life, Piers Taylor, and married him after a short courtship at the age of 23. He introduced me to the wilds of Africa and the wonderful life of safari and adventure in Zimbabwe. We have spent the past 29 years, conducting our own luxury safaris together, and in-between, taking time out with our family to enjoy our own very special trips together, across the length and breadth of Africa and more recently to India, Vietnam and Cambodia and Morocco. My children were fortunate enough to have a wonderful bush upbringing between our lodges and homes and lived a privileged life in an area called Matetsi south of Victoria Falls.
I spent almost 13 years in the remote and isolated safari areas where our camp was located and gradually became involved in the surrounding communities, and made myself known amongst the local crafters in the area.
With a passion for the creative and a love of beautiful things, I slowly began to gain confidence with these women and tasked them with various creative endeavours for our homes and lodges. This expanded, and grew, and I saw there was a potential for the unique and beautiful craft these women could produce. I pursued this love during” off-season” and the rains, and gradually expanded my small repertoire to include beaded items and leather works, and thus began The Safari Collection over 20 years ago. With an excited and animated guest profile of top international clientele all enthusiastic to purchase gifts and authentic product to take home with them, I had a small ready market on my doorstep for the goods I sourced and created which only encouraged me to continue and grow.
I sought out various skilled groups and cooperative and spent many years working with them and building a small range of exclusive and high-end product aimed at the discerning traveller. This led to various small projects and interest grew in our range as we supplied the hospitality market and high-end Boutique lodges in the region. Eventually, the range became more than just a hobby and enabled the employment of about 30 women at the time.
I soon learnt that this was where one of my passions lay, and I continued to grow, and develop and market my product range throughout Zimbabwe and in the region. Eventually, I was approached by friends within the industry to consult on lodge design and interiors, and my first big project was Camelthorn Lodge for Imvelo Safari Lodges, where I was engaged to complete a large 16 bedded 5-star lodge I the remote area of Hwange National Park. I was able to bring the community into my craft, and this for me was a “lightbulb” moment, as I realised this was what I was destined to do. The realisation of this dream has been Collaborative Craft Projects, and I am excited to bring our products to the global marketplace.
I am also involved with the Industry Girls Network of Zimbabwe. This is a networking and mentoring platform for women business owners and emerging ‘creatives’ in the design industry.