I’m excited to unveil today’s feature on a young and talented jewellery designer. At only 24, she has built a brand with dedication and hard work, inspired by her mother from a young age. Ms. Eva Mynsberghe is an adorable young lady that I had to pleasure to meet for the first time, in her flagship store at the East African Crafts Village. She has that twinkle in her eyes of a dreamer as I can relate, moving every milestone in her way to pursue her passion to the fullest. She was happy to share with us about her dreams, inspirations and journey with Balungi and how she does it, plus I got to showcase how you can rock her gorgeous designs! How cool is that?!
Karen: You mostly use bark cloth for your pieces. When did you discover bark cloth and how do you use it?
Eve: Since I was little, my mom and I had a passion for Bark cloth and its beauty. We’ve researched the material for the last 15 years; the result is the finishing you now see on our products. Our research was on quality, applying glue, varnish to make sure it becomes a nice, sustainable product at the end of the process.
Karen: And my what great Luganda you speak…how long have you lived in Uganda?
Eve: Actually that’s a funny question, I would say; Uganda yaffe! Once you come to Uganda, you never want to leave, but I had to for my studies! Still, I came yearly to Uganda since 2001. So then when we launched Balungi, I decided to keep my main base in Uganda mostly because I’d like to follow the footsteps of my amazing mama and enjoy the beauty and hospitality of Uganda.
Karen: What inspires and drives you?
Eve: I’m fully energised and motivated when I think of how far my mom has come, as an amazing designer who has accomplished several great projects in Uganda. I actually watched as she moved mountains while doing that! What’s more, with all the knowledge I have gained so far, and working alongside her, nothing is impossible anymore. I know where I want Balungi to be in the next 10 years. All beginnings are hard but I believe those with the strength and hard work will be blessed with greater heights!
Karen: Tell me more about Balungi, how did you decide on the name?
Eve: We are making beautiful things for beautiful people, hand-made in Uganda. Balungi is a Luganda word which stands for Beauty. We combine the beauty of Uganda with our perception of beauty. And we are happy that at the end of the day, our creations end up with clients who are also thinking along the same philosophy.
Because beauty is not only what you see but also the story behind the product it’s the way of thinking and the time invested in making the product since you can never judge an object by its appearance. It’s the package that makes the impact.
This is how I can describe the Story behind of Balungi. The main reason throughout the company is Uganda and beauty.
Karen: And what goes into creating each of these pieces?
Eve: Balungi’s creations go through a long a production process; from the designing to sourcing materials, pre-production and final assembly. Depending on the design and specifications we have people on our team that cater to the process. But the designer is mainly the one who assembles and does a double check up on all finished products. When we make prototypes there always need to be alterations or resourcing of material quality to deliver a perfect finished product. Depending on which product, the main line is design, sourcing material, pre-production & varnishing and assembly
Karen: Which are your favourite pieces to make and in which colours?
Eve: I love to design in all colours, but I mostly enjoy making the custom designs. They always turn out beautifully! In general looking at the production process, I prefer to create necklaces and earrings but for special occasions or custom designs I am open to make anything! Actually within Balungi, we design more than just jewellery and accessories. We also design packaging, graphical designs and go as broad as we can to satisfy the client with our main goal; philosophy to promote Uganda with its natural treasures.
Karen: What’s the best thing you’ve seen lately?
Eve: I think every day is a day to create innovative objects. The best things are mostly the small things in life, which make your day. I love simplicity in appearance, the goodness in people who can give you (out of the blue) a gift or surprise…actually the best thing I have seen lately is nothing material but more the positive response of people to what Balungi is doing. It has been a long journey so far to get where we are today, but every second worth it. We love what we do and the best thing is people love what we do!
Karen: You mentioned that you can tell what accessory will fit someone just by looking at them, like my slim wrist, Belinda’s neck, how does this come to you?
Eve: The more you design jewellery the more you become familiar people’s sizes and preferences. The aim for me is to make sure your jewellery beautifies you in this way. We keep on improving on quality and individuality to carry out 100 % satisfaction for the client since every person is special, unique and should be admired in their own special way. My eye gets used to all uniqueness, which is a true blessing.
Karen: Which other Ugandan designers have you collaborated with so far and for what shows?
Eve: We have had several collaborations with Definition for shows like; Bold’s first Fashion Show, Kampala Fashion Intro and they are selling an exclusive collection by Balungi named TUNE SATU. I also collaborated with LULU by Anna Clare Lukoma also for Kampala Fashion Intro. Balungi has done other collaborations as well but then these were more private projects with clients.
Karen How do you manage your time in doing all this? Could you share with us a few other things you’re currently into?
Eve: I love what I do; I think that’s the passion or aim in life you should have. I never count my hours. Actually my daily activities are pushed by a dream. Balungi’s dream and goal is to grow into a sustainable company which reflects Uganda’s beauty, known globally for its variety of product lines.