Embroidery that has a positive influence on the fibre of society too


Kaross is an embroidery initiative that started in 1989 with five Shangaan embroiders on a citrus farm in Letsitele, Northern Limpopo. Today it offer job opportunities to more than 6000 people.Visual artists Irma van Rooyen, is the creative director and founder of Kaross™. Sitting on a Kaross (blanket) under a Marula tree,  five ladies started by embroidering their own stories and that of their community and culture.

The voice of 6000+ local families

Irma’s objective was to create pieces with excellent quality and had this quality-CrartArt approach to handwork ever since. Over the past 20 odd years Kaross became the voice of 6000+ Shangaan people and their families staying in communities in the Letsitele/Giyani area of Limpopo Province. Kaross document the changes in culture  this way and at the same time explore presenting heritage in the jacket of modern, marketable products and artworks.

Earning by doing what they love and are good at

Kaross™’s incentive is to create jobs and opportunities for mainly, rural women to make a living by being creative in their own inherited and traditional skills. “The job-creation and upliftment aspect of the project remains a driving force and is key to all developmental and business decisions in Kaross,” says Irma.
“A strengthened cultural awareness followed and formed the basis of many Shangaan people’s positive perception of themselves within the context of South Africa and the rest of the world. This awareness of being yourself in a global environment, is an important concept in terms of sustainable development and the upliftment of people. There exist a need for rural woman to acknowledge and explore their own capacity to make a difference in their communities and South Africa as a whole. Kaross™ believes in playing their part in realizing these peoples potential,” she says.

Moms working at home positive influence on social fibre of community

Letsitele is the home-ground of the talented and skillful Shangaan/Tsonga people. Kaross™ provides diverse possibilities for local women to capitalize on their rich creative tradition and creates healthy exchange of creative forces among artists. The success of  Kaross™ derives from a contract system with the embroiderers. The embroiderer receive cloth,  mainly black, with the design pre-drawn onto it, together with a range of cotton-thread. After completing the work at their homes, the worker returns for payment and new work. These embroidered pieces is then made into tablecloths, place mats, cushion covers, wall hangings and bed linen. This way women of the region (and later on men, even tractor drivers on the farms)  could stay and work at home and look after their children whilst getting an income at the same time. This has a positive influence on the very fibre of the community.

Contact details:

Tel +27(0)15 345 1458