Katherine-Mary Pichulik has worked as a patissier in Europe and backpacked through India, but, ultimately, she found her greatest inspiration back home in Africa.

When she returned to Cape Town in 2012, Pichulik started making statement necklaces from pieces of rope and selling them off her neck to people who liked them. Now Pichulik is a four-year-old accessory brand that was chosen as one of the top-10 brands by Vogue Italia’s Scouting for Africa project.

It was also named African Fashion International’s accessory designer of the year and was featured as “South Africa’s hottest jewellery brand” in a CNN documentary.

“I create because I am African”, says 29-year-old Pichulik.

Ninety percent of the materials she uses are sourced on the continent, including West African brass and agate, and Pan-African trade beads. The ceremonies and rites of passage that African jewellery symbolise are a great source of inspiration to her.

Pichulik, a fine arts graduate, has grown from a gifted artist into a formidable businessperson. Her team of eight women in Cape Town supplies 25 international stores, 12 local retailers as well as her online store.

She tries to use her business to empower women through skills transfer and collaboration

Find Katherine on Twitter: @Pichulik