Creating a Legacy
The Legacy Collection works to keep alive the memory of the sacrifices made for the freedom of a nation. We receive some insight and Charmaine Taylor, Founding Artist and CEO, Legacy Collection, answers our 13 famous Opulent Living questions.
Robben Island was the prison that held Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Walter Sisulu and many others who fought to end apartheid, and is now a symbol of their battle for human rights and equality in South Africa.
The goal is to ensure that this place and piece of history is never forgotten and that all South Africans have the opportunity to succeed.
Transforming implements of oppression into works of beauty and remembrance, Legacy Collection craft wall pieces and jewelry from dismantled sections of the original maximum-security prison fence that were once destined for a landfill. Each item helps to raise awareness of Robben Island and all that it represents, and each purchase helps to support sustainable employment projects in South Africa, to which Legacy Collection donates 25% percent of their profits.
Charmaine Taylor, Founding Artist and CEO, Legacy Collection, answers the 13 famous Opulent Living questions:
01. What does a day in your life look like and are there any exciting new projects on the horizon?
I usually wake up 5:30am as I love the early hours of the day. I love my coffee so always start with a good cup then move to my lounge, check my social media pages and write down a dream I might have just had and write down what I have to do for the day. I also love my morning “me time” running along the ocean, dip my feet in the ocean, then after that I go to my local coffee shop 8am for my half price cup of coffee before 8:30am ( I always love a bargain).
I am also always carrying something interesting around with me, in 2 or 3 bags. I usually do not have a free hand. I have often laughed to myself about what I find in my bags, as some people might not see the value in a single rusted piece of wire I have specifically chosen, or the tiny rusted dusty chips that I keep in bags for my artworks, I am the ultimate recycler.
But, I see gold and use every piece of fence I have, I see the potential it brings to my world and to everyone else who will own my collection for years to come.
02. Where can you see yourself in the future?
Legacy Collection is limited, as the Robben Island fence is finite, so in the next 3 years I will need to find something new to create or build into.
I would like I can have more time to mentor other entrepreneurs in their small businesses, as that is the one of the largest issues in South African we need skilled labour and job security.
03. If you weren’t doing what you do, you would…?
I see myself developing into doing something similar to the vision within Legacy Collection. I will still work in my local community and creating skills development through art and jewellery.
04. An object you would never part with?
Wow this is a hard one as I have a few. I would say my granny’s yellow gold turquoise stone ring. I have collected my “first” Legacy Collection pieces that I first created, those are super special to me.
05. An artist whose work you collect?
I would love to say I have bought and collect a lot of paintings. But I have not done so to date. I do appreciate and absolutely love the pop art culture of Andy Warhol. As I have always adored the legends of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley the first time I saw the portraits of Marilyn and Elvis I fell in love with Warhol’s work. I also had the privilege of seeing the originals at the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York and I was absolutely mesmerized. Also loved seeing Stary Stary night by Van Gough which at the MOMA, it is another one of my ultimate favorite paintings. Was a day to remember.
06. The best souvenir you’ve brought home?
I have collected mugs from my overseas travels. So if you ever come to my house for a coffee you will always drink a mug from London, Oslo, New York, Los Angeles, Goa India. My question is always “where do you want to go the most” then I name the cities.
07. Which people have influenced you in your career and in your life in general?
This is also a very hard one as there have been so many. But if I have to think of a few it would be my always positive and cheerful mother, and always consistent and steady love of my father.
Artistic influence would definitely be an amazing artistic friend of mine Sharon Boonzaire who is one of my best friends and who I shared an art studio with for 4 years who taught me to be brave and stretch my creative imagination off the page. From influencing my Graphic design, water & oil art as well as just saying “yes” and making a plan to make it work as creative.
In business would be Kurt Liebetrau who helped me come up with a business plan, and The Idea to create jewellery from the Robben Island Fence.
Chris Swift who rescued the fence off Robben Island, I mention Chris’ name most days as he started me on the biggest journey to date, with this project and trusted me with the exclusive license to the jewellery.
Then finally (but no the least) my business partners Karyn and Dave Liddell, who are “doers” and extremely kind people. Karyn is the calm amongst the storms in my days and Dave assists me with all things “numbers”. And are always there for me with anything I ask or need. You always need business partners who is willing to go the extra mile, and that is Karyn and Dave Liddell.
08. Which four people from history would you like to have around a dinner table for one evening?
Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Michelle Obama and Andy Warhol
09. Which is your favourite city in the world and why is this so?
New York City, it really is the city that makes you believe you can do anything and a city that never sleeps. Very cosmopolitan and cutting edge in design and business, bright lights and a total feast for the eyes.
It’s a city that is easy to navigate. You can walk from top to bottom and each street is totally unique and have amazing finds. My favorite running spot in the world is central park or downtown by NYU, Washington Square Park, you can watch people and have a great coffee on most street corners.
10. Please name a book all of us should read in your opinion.
“Mark of the Lion” by Francine Rivers.
It is a trilogy of books I could not put down a few years ago. I got lost in the ancient world of the Roman Empire and all the stories of peasants becoming royalty, a gladiator fighting for his freedom and Roman aristocrat’s falling to their knees and becoming humble. Beautiful story of the power of the human spirit.
12. What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Never react out of extreme emotion, think before you react. Always keep yourself accountable to your family and close friends, keep your pride in check, it does not belong in you.
Don’t be afraid to be different or stand up for something that is not right. It only takes one thought and vision to change the world. So keep dreaming and when you dream, dream even bigger. If God has given and confirmed this vision or dream within you, how much more would He not help you to complete this good work in you.
13. What does luxury mean for you?
Something that usually simple in design but the fine details are perfect and elegant, that is made and presented beautifully. And when it comes to products usually something that is limited edition. And stands the test of time.
Charmaine, thank you so much!
Picture of Charmaine Taylor by Tanya van Graan