Who are the madcows?

Madcows was started in 2011 by Bianca Black & Clare Girardin, two friends who’ve known each other for 25 years!  The MAD part stands for Making a Difference, and the cows part...well you figure it out!   Our vision is to source sustainable handcrafted design, arts, crafts and bespoke pieces throughout Africa and bridge the gap between artisans and the end consumer.  This includes sourcing wonderful little gems of creation across this vast and magnificent content of ours, and bringing it directly to you! So, how did we get to this place?

Background on the cows;

Bianca Black is based in White River in the picturesque Lowveld.  She moved here with her husband and 2 boys five years ago to savour and enjoy the slower Lowveld pace....Bianca had her own very successful framing and decor business in Johannesburg for 8 years, and included SAA & JSE amongst her top clients.   When she moved up to White River, Bianca started TWAK wood, focusing on sourcing various wooden pieces from SFC certified forestries and concessions in Mozambique.  The wood from these forests was turned into beautiful creations made from Moranti, Wild Mango and Tamboti.  These include stools, stumps, slabs for table-tops as well as hand turned bowls and light fittings.  Bianca’s hard work with this concession paid off with TWAK being awarded one of the tenders to supply Boardman’s with their own ‘homegrown’ range of uniquely designed SA handcrafted pieces.  The stools and slabs have also been featured in House & Leisure, ELLE decoration and Lowveld Living.  TWAK has now been incorporated into MADCOWS as one of the premier product lines.

Clare Girardin comes from a hospitality background, having worked in hospitality and tourism for the past 20 odd years.  After completing a 5 year stint working in international marketing for the world renowned Sabi Sabi private game reserve, Clare and her husband moved up to the far Northern reaches of the Limpopo and took over the family business – Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge.  From 2000 to 2011, Clare and Michel grew Shiluvari from a small rural dwelling to a premier Country Lodge, which was one of the first properties in the world to receive the Fair Trade in Tourism accreditation.  Part of the focus of Shiluvari was the development of the Ribolla Arts Route, which featured the Venda ‘big five’ artists including the legendary Noria Mabasa, the late Jackson Hlungwani and others....This route showcased the melting pot of culture and talent that makes up the heady mix of magic in the Soutpansberg.  This is where Clare’s love of art and development of local craft crept in.  After relocating to Hoedspruit beginning of 2011 for her daughter to start school at Southern Cross, Clare decided the timing was perfect to development of the promotion of local art and craft.  So, voila after many deliberations over copious glasses of white wine, we both decided to take the next step and MADCOWS was born!

Our focus is on the sourcing of SUSTAINABLE arts and crafts.  What exactly does this mean?  Well, it means that we feel that there are enough fabulously talented people right here on our doorstep producing the most wonderful array of goods, that we need not look anywhere else – certainly not China for starters!!  We choose projects that have a story, that benefit those who create, that have a vision, those that make a difference....

We want to be the difference you want to see!

Enjoy browsing through the site and check out some of our creative creatures!

Yours in MADness,

Bianca & Clare