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Meet the maker: Cherie Roe Dirksen

Meet the maker: Cherie Roe Dirksen

Est 2019, Barrydale, Western Cape

Who is Cherie Roe Dirksen?

I’ve always been creative, since I can remember, so the art side of things came naturally to me. I’m also someone who loves animals, nature (I’m a real tree-hugger), and philosophizing all the ‘biggies’. This is what led me to write my self-empowerment books which can be purchased in South Africa at Exclusive Books. I’m a bit of an all-rounder and am also a musician (I could never collapse on just one creative outlet, so I drive myself crazy trying to do all of my passions). I play bass guitar and our band’s name is Templeton Universe. It can best be described as ambient rock.

I’ve also composed a purely ambient instrumental CD called, “Nature Calling”. Music is my go-to at the end of the day, I can’t imagine my life without it. I’m also a keen gardener and since my husband and I moved to the Klein Karoo, I’ve been developing my green thumb —something I never seemed to have when I lived in Cape Town! I love life in the country. I’ve even started making my own jam, bread and other kitcheny-oven-burning-my-fingers-type stuff that I never imagined myself doing when I was a city girl!

What was the idea behind your brand.

The idea behind my SA brand was to create a ‘best of’ collection of my art, for the people in my homeland. This may seem strange but since I became a full-time artist, which was back in 2005, I’ve always punted my wares abroad. I’ve been working with an art licensing company in the USA for about a decade now, so I’ve been very preoccupied with the global market. When I got the idea to make my prints available in South Africa, it was a chance to reach my local clientele. I’d only been offering my original art. locally and I knew that prints were an inexpensive way of bringing life to your walls without having to make the investment that is collecting original art. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, as one of the biggest complaints my customers had about buying my prints on overseas platforms, was paying exorbitant shipping fees, customs fees and, let’s face it, the rand-dollar rate is pretty crippling as well. This was my chance to source local manufacturers and bring my art to a new audience, on my doorstep. This also brought me a new niche market, something South Africans can relate to such as the stark Karoo landscapes and the contrasting luscious farmlands, to  the quirky animals we share this beautiful land with—it’s given me a new platform to try my hand at something with a definitive African flavor.

How many people work for you?

If you count my hubby, Mike, one. Lol, I do it all myself for now with a bit of help from my plus one when he can see I’m really stressing out.

What are your best sellers?

That’s a tough one. I would say my landscapes, especially the ‘red hill’ ones, but then I’ve had quite a bit of success with my Llama prints too, which is great, ‘cause it means that South Africans haven’t lost their sense of humour during these strenuous times. I’m quite eager to add some new characters to the collection, so watch this space.

What is YOUR favourite product of your collection?

This changes all the time but I’d have to say that Zen boon is my favourite right now. He reminds me of the funny side of life. When those lovable rogues raid my fruit and veggie garden and get me all hot under the collar, he’s my go-to happy place. Which is actually why I created the Zenboon collection in the first place —to remind me that I love our baboons more than when I want to strangle them (figuratively, of course). I put all my angst into the illustrations and come up smiling again, albeit with my entire crop in

What to you is the best thing about selling on KNUS?

Well, this is easy. Having a local outlet for my print collection with the quality associated with KNUS, is a real bonus. But what really impresses me every time is the competence, friendliness and professionalism that I experience with all the staff at KNUS, it’s just incredible. I count myself very lucky to be associated with this extraordinary team.

How would you say it has impacted your business selling through KNUS?

Selling through KNUS has given me the opportunity to reach my South African clientele in a way that no other outlet could. The team at KNUS have always been so helpful with getting me to expand my print line and extend my genres with terrific ideas and advice. I truly feel like our relationship is broadening my scope and reach in ways I couldn’t have achieved on my own. It’s tough when you’re doing everything yourself and it really helps having a team like KNUS on your side, getting you to step out of your comfort zone.

Why would you say it is important for customers to support local?

Where to start? It goes without saying really, that during the COVID crisis it became apparent that we all need to support each other in order to thrive. It’s brought up the importance of supporting national and community-based businesses in a way that we haven’t seen before.  South African artisans have a lot to offer the industry, especially in terms of quality.

With so much on offer in these ‘online shopping’ times, we are swimming in a sea of, perhaps, too much choice, where it’s very hard to know where you are buying from, who you are buying from, what the quality is like and how sustainable it is. With my print line, it is a print on demand business. That means that as the order comes in, the print is  made and there is no overprinting and using resources unnecessarily. Right now, I have sourced 2 high-quality print companies in South Africa who do this for me. It always makes me smile when I think that 1 print order supports not only me and the online retail outlet but the print company, the suppliers to the print company and the courier company. There are so many local businesses impacted positively with just one purchase. So, go on and do the right thing! Buy local, it has far-reaching impact.