Working Women: #1 Sarah Cohen

South Africa commemorates Women’s Month in August as a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women.

This August, GAP is publishing a micro-profile a day on women working in Grahamstown in 2015. Our first profile is on entrepreneur Sarah Cohen, owner of G-Town Gems.

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Sarah Cohen sells her products at the Union Building, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, May 13, 2015.

If you ever frequent Grahamstown’s community Facebook pages, it’s likely that you have seen her posts advertising “once off” and “unique” jewellery at surprisingly affordable prices.

Two years ago Sarah, realizing that she never even wore most of her jewellery, decided to sell some of it on the Second Hand Grahamstown Facebook Page. The demand for her taste in accessories surprised her.

“People kept sending me messages saying they wanted more” said Sarah. So she began to buy items and tweak them accordingly.

“I’ve always been a creative person and I get more satisfaction with selling the jewellery, than just making it for myself,” said Sarah.

Now her business has grown so exponentially and she can no longer make everything herself. She keeps an eye on online fashion trends and then sources stock accordingly.

“Like chokers for instance” she said. “Chokers are really in at the moment”.

She caters mostly to the student market in town, so affordability is key, her past experience as a Rhodes student has taught her what to expect.

“Students don’t have time to go off campus, so you have to go to them” Sarah said.

She arranges to meet students at a central location on campus to deliver their orders. Social media continues to be the main way she attracts customers, she updates the G-Town gems Facebook page with ten to fifteen posts a day.

Working at a full time job, the ordering, producing, advertising and contacting customers for G-Town Gems is all done after hours and on the weekend.

“I would say that I’m a bit of a workaholic,” said Sarah. “My friends think I’m crazy when all I want to do is sit and make things, but if I didn’t do this, it would be something else”.

About the photographer: Jane Berg is a photojournalist working in Grahamstown finishing her Bachelor of Journalism Degree at Rhodes University. She is the Media Officer for The Gender Action Project. You can see more of her work at www.janebergphotography.tumblr.com and on her Facebook page.

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