Balungi : A passion for beauty made in Uganda
It’s not everyday that you find a 23-year-old beautiful white girl selling crafts at a local craft market like the defunct Juakali craft market in Nsambya getting down with the locals and hustling for clients. That’s what exactly Ms. Eva Mynsberghe shop owner and proprietor of Balungi used to do every Friday of the week before she opened up a flagship store at the newly opened East Africa Craft Village.
Balungi Flagship Store opened its doors to the public on the 5th October 2013 and it specializes in beauty, people, nature, Uganda, sustainability and environmentally friendly products.The team at Balungi consists of 4 people who are a European and Ugandan fusion of designers who think along the same lines creatively and imperative to note is that everything at Balungi is handmade.
“Because beauty is not only what you see it’s also the story behind the product, it’s the way of thinking and the time invested in making the product since you can never judge an object by its appearance” says Eva.
In all cultures, jewelry is seen as a sign of wealth and beauty The story starts with their major materials being recycled plastic water bottles, cardboards, rubber, newspapers combined with eucalyptus seeds, acacia seeds, barkcloth etc.
Then it’s inspired by the beauty of the Karamojong people’s tattoos and inscriptions in their skin, which symbolize a sign of beauty. This inspired them to make bracelets and necklaces dedicated to this kind of beauty take an example of the Karamojong necklace and bracelets.
They at Balungi are also working on a line called Less Is More. Ms. Eva Mynsberghe explains that it’s in her clients benefit for her work being limited edition “You have to give individuality, exclusivity & authenticity to carry out 100% satisfaction for clients, every person is special, unique and should be admired in their own special way ”.
Balungi is also platform for Art, which means that it is a place for all artists to show their work. Ms. Eva Mynsberghe explains that at the end of the day artists have a platform to show their creativity to the world. “I want this place look like a book and I want people to understand the story behind Balungi such as an interactive advertising wall with in the Balungi Shop and display art works from various creative artists. The main factors in the society are culture and Art, politics, the environment and development and Art should also be a part of a generation expressing themselves since it would be good if they can express themselves with their own beauty and show what is with in them”.
For the moment Balungi specializes in Jewelry, interior accessories, small furniture and mirrors.One of the necklaces sold at the shop is made out of an amulet, which consists of rolled black and white bark-cloth, plastic bottle rings covered with newspapers, hand-made Balungi beads (made out of cardboards, black bark-cloth, silver pin) covered with newspapers or red bark-cloth, red glass Karamojong beads and a rubber closure. It costs 95,000 UGX (38$)
Real glasses covered with banana fibre or black bark-cloth or newspaper is used to make the Balungi goggles, which are quite popular and unisex. Everything is varnished in the banana fibre range and there’s a range of a mix of panache and everything and sealed for humility to protect against water and things like sweat. Ladies can use them as a nose jewel or for hair bandage they cost 60,000 UGX (24$).
Necklaces range from 60,000 UGX – 300,000 UGX on average.
Earrings range from 10,000 UGX (4$) – 30,000 UGX (11.8$)
Interior accessories include Vases made of recycled glass bottles and topped off with barkcloth newspaper and vanish and a set of two costs 20,000 UGX (8$), bowls in different sizes inside papier-mâché covered up with white barkcloth or white barkcloth and varnish. They can be used for various things like putting in your snacks or fruits cost 35,000 UGX. Planted in a recycled plastic bottle topped off with rubber and barkcloth the Crassula Ovata or the friendship tree costs 22,000 UGX (8.8$), mirrors cost 470,000 UGX (188$).
For clients who want exclusivity, Balungi is open to all ideas. Clients can bring their own ideas of what they want and they will design something unique for them, which express Uganda’s beauty and uniqueness.
Balungi Flagship store is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 PM – 6 PM.
Location: East Africa Craft Village
Kyagwe Road on the junction with Buganda Road
(Opposite Kisozi Close)