We caught up with the incredibly talented, stunningly beautiful, and impeccably dressed - Cassandra Twala, to chat all things Cass! The curator-queen creative queen was more than happy to zoom with us, and we just loved her calm and balanced energy! This humble human has an incredible approach to life and we just had to know more...
Samantha: A person’s heritage, and culture always plays a huge role in who they are. Cassandra, can you tell us a little more about yours?
Cassandra: I am Sesotho/Zulu, but was mostly raised by my mom’s side of the family which is Sesotho, from Qwa-qwa in the Free-State. My ‘heritage’ wasn’t something that was given huge gravitas to me as kid to be honest, because our parents were in a place where whiteness became the implicit goal. They ignorantly ‘erased’ their own upbringing unwittingly, and pushed us so much to be accepted by the white gaze as that was their new indoctrination of success. I’m only really appreciating my people (black people) as I grow older. I’m not specifically tied to being Sesotho, because I think those were also constructs that separated us and made us believe we’re different because of the different dialects. I am discovering what being an African black women means, on my own terms and its an amazing journey.
Samantha: An aspiring collector and full-on enthusiast of local art and design - what is it, that continuously draws you to handmade craft?
Cassandra: I feel its intuitive. I’ve always been drawn to, and hugely fascinated by creating things with my hands. I was into scrap booking as a child, took up extra arts & craft in primary school, and just generally very inquisitive. I sometimes think about each person that touches something as giving a piece of themselves to it. It is tremendous to think that someone who made your shoes, learnt their skills, went through so many life experiences to be in the moment where they are moulding something. Art and design is created by people. It’s a mirror of who we are as a society, and I think that’s both powerful, fascinating, and sometimes harrowing.
Samantha: Cass, you studied Architecture at UCT and Brand Leadership at VEGA. You are continuously demonstrating how creativity and structure can co-exist AND thrive concurrently. When would you say your interest in the strategy of design began?
Cassandra: I would say as early as primary/high school. I always knew I was able to think through problems – I was good at maths, while also having a very keen interest in expressing myself creatively. To me creativity is like a pendulum swing, that oscillated between being and thinking. It is both thinking deeply, and also allowing yourself to just be as you were meant to. The ‘physical’ swing is the structure or environments you find yourself in, those change, but the motion stays the same.
Samantha: You have steadily developed your craft and career. And, have worked with incredible companies such as ArtLogic – on special events and now in your current role as the Brand Manager, at Investec. What have been some of your career highlights thus far?
Cassandra: The people I’ve met and worked with in my career are the highlights. Cobi Labuscagne ( Artlogic Founder) ; Sarah Diouf ( Tongoro Studio ) ; Ella Buter ( Very Superella) , Danni Dixon ( Investec Head of Brand) ; Ningi Mhinga ( Nike, South Africa); Jo Nuero ( Design lecturer at UCT) and my dear friend Lulama Wolf ( Artist).
As for ‘great moments’ – definitely the second year of working on Sanlam HMC was a real treat that I’ll cherish.
Samantha: Perfect transition because on that note... you were asked to curate for the 2018, Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair. This must have been an incredible experience; what did you loved the most about it?
Cassandra: This is a rare instance where I could say I loved everything about it. Ok, maybe only my salary I didn’t like so much, but it was well compensated for in many other ways. Haha. I loved re-imaging a new floor plan, crafting the journey, working with my friend Nandi as our creative agency, working with all the amazing exhibitors, feeding off of the energy on the rooftop each day.
Samantha: Wellness is something we tend to overlook and undervalue. When did you begin your relationship with Mathahle Stofile’s - The Matte Project? And can you tell us a little more about the type of content you create there and its purpose?
Cassandra: I don’t know which year we met for the first time, but when we solidified our partnership was 2019, so things are pretty new. We are still dating. Haha. The Matte Project really aims to bridge the access to credible information gap. She’s built an exceptional reputation in skincare over the years, and my job is to amplify that, and create new opportunities together. Wellness has organically become a significant component of the Matte Project (TMP), because as we are all learning as we continue to figure life out, everything is connected, so we couldn’t speak about skincare without speaking on wellness. Personally, I’ve used to consider wellness as eat well and exercise, and that’s a disservice to our complex selves. Wellness has so much breadth and depth, and we explore that on TMP. Slowly. One think I really appreciate about Mathahle and our partnership is we’re so at ease with doing things in our own time and pace.
Samantha: Women’s month is a time for reflection and action. In your own words, ‘The universe is very intentional about your existence, so be as intentional about your being’. As a Woman of Impact, what few words would you depart on the many women of South Africa, who are fighting for equality today?
Cassandra: Women in South Africa are fighting so many struggles all the time. We live in a constant state of survival/defence. Its exhausting. My advise would be to be kinds to ourselves first, affirm your own existence as often as possible as something that is meaningful and of real value. I would urge women to stop carrying the weight of the world. Men must carry femicide. White people must carry white supremacy. We must take care of ourselves, just as much as we nurture our immediate communities ( family, friends, collegues, extended community) because both, are healthy practices of selflove. I think as a reflection on the world, for women, and men, you are not alone.
Samantha: Cassandra, thank you for taking the time to engage with us! We are in awe of your innate ability to unify and refine. There have been many difficult challenges for the women of the past and although different, there are still many struggles - for the women of today. Thank you for being such a positive influence and lighting the way for those to come!
And lastly…. please could we ask you to share a mantra or a quote that truly resonates with you. =)
Cassandra: All the 90s kids will know this one – ‘At your best, you are love’ – from an Aaliyah song.