Women of the Waterfront

The Women of the Waterfront 

For Women’s Month in South Africa, anchored by National Women’s Day on 9 August 2022, we’re spotlighting the phenomenal women of our precinct.

National Women’s Day marks the anniversary of the monumental women’s march of 1956 when around 20 000 women took to the streets of Tshwane (then known as Pretoria) to protest against the Apartheid regime’s control over the movement of black women in urban areas. Now, when we celebrate the annual public holiday, we are reminded not only of the strength and resilience of the women of 1956, but we also celebrate the wonderful achievements of women today.

This August, we want to highlight the many women-owned businesses in our neighbourhood that keep the good food, fashion and feelings flowing! Because there is a multitude of women-owned businesses at the V&A Waterfront, we’re covering only a handful of the powerhouse women that keep the precinct thriving!

The foodies 

They say the quickest way to the heart is through the stomach, and if that’s the case then all of these women have our hearts! Den Anker, everyone’s favourite stalwart Belgian restaurant on the Pierhead, is owned by Rejeanne Vlietman, who’s been serving up beer and waffles to Cape Town since 1994. Two newer women-owned additions to the foodie scene at the V&A Waterfront include The Yard in The Silo District, which was opened by Abigail Bisogno in 2017, and Emazulwini at Maker’s Landing, the award-winning traditional eatery from Mmabatho Molefe, which opened its doors in late 2020.

The designers 

These three clothing and accessories brands are owned by incredible women who put their personal flair into each and every piece: Helon Melon, Cool Tabs Accessories, and Hannah Lavery. Founded by Helen Gibbs in 1995, Helon Melon (which can be found at The Watershed) has been bringing unique fabric choices and innovative designs to South Africans for over twenty years. Cool Tabs Accessories, also based at The Watershed, was started in 2014 by Aretha Doyle, who had the vision to turn recycled can tabs into beautiful handbags and accessories. Designer Hannah Lavery started her eponymous apparel brand in 2012, which was inspired by the desire to cater for the diversity of women’s shapes and lives. You can shop her creations at The Watershed.

The Mother Nature lovers 

Robyn Smith founded Faithful to Nature in 2006 to give ordinary people access to honest, affordable, and ethical alternatives to everyday products. In the years since, Faithful to Nature, which has a shop in the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, has grown to be one of the biggest ethical retailers in the country. Also inspired by the power of nature and natural products, Rencia Droganis founded Africology in early 2000 to capture the essence of Africa’s healing plants in a range of all-natural, organic skin and body products. Africology, which has a store in the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, has since become an internationally-recognised brand that sells its products across the globe!

At the V&A Waterfront, we are always excited to hear about your favourite women-owned businesses in our precinct — but we also want to hear about the inspiring women in your day-to-day life! Please remember to keep us up-to-date with your V&A experiences by tagging @vandawaterfront, and let us know all about your favourite women-owned businesses?

The V&A team