A better society
Dynamite comes in small packages, or so they say. No words can better describe petite softspoken social entrepreneur and managing director of Stitch Wise, Natalie Killassy, who has built an innovative industrial sewing business from scratch with her bare hands.
Stitch Wise is an innovative Carletonville-based sewing company that designs and develops safety products that meet and support the needs of the mining industry.
The 16-year-old business added a philanthropic twist right from inception by employing paraplegic miners, mostly injured in mining accidents, and helping them to get back into society by equipping them with industrial sewing skills and then employing them within the company.
Stitch Wise products range from personal protective equipment for miners to backfill support bags that form the pillars that prevent the hanging from collapsing. The backfill bags have since evolved into the smaller rock pack support system, which the innovative business has since patented.
“You’re on site, you’re involved, transferring knowledge and the great ideas you patent. And those patents give you 20 years to your market, so you’re protecting your market, creating your market yourself with patents and it certainly i mproves your bottom-line,” says Killassy.
Killassy says the rock-pack is based on the same backfill bag principles, but with reinforcement in the bag to give it better load-carrying capacity, in addition to safety and user-friendly features for miners.
She says it was initially quite a challenge to get the all-male team of miners to warm up to the idea of sewing for a living, even though it was industrial sewing.
“But they began to see the rewards of their work, not just the financial rewards through the dividends, but the rewards of seeing that their colleagues are working safely and comfortably underground through the protective gear we manufacture,” she adds.
The social entrepreneur, who employs close to 100 people, has also decided to extend the company’s social reach by stretching into marginalised townships in the Carletonville area. Through six years of research and development, Stitch Wise has developed a model to launch and scale up operations by creating manufacturing hubs in the three townships around Carletonville firstname.lastname@example.org
Buhle Ndweni Natalie Killassy