TOURISM MILESTONES in the INDUSTRY
Compiled Marita van Rooyen
Nakara is the only tannery in Namibia entitled to produce Swakara skins and garments up to a final processed form in accordance with international standards.
The early years
Kevin Davidow first opened shop in 1980, establishing a small tannery in the northern industrial area of Windhoek. With funding borrowed from his parents, he bought second-hand machinery, which consisted of a fur machine, stepping machine and sewing machine.
In recognition of the pending political changes, such as the country’s name becoming Namibia as opposed to South West Africa, he decided to call his business NAKARA, capitalising on the association it would have with the well-known Swakara karakul (Persian lamb) pelts.
In the beginning Nakara focussed only on processing and manufacturing Swakara and other fur, such as fox, shifting its focus to leather only at a later stage. By 1989 the tannery had become too small to meet the growing demand, and a new factory was built and taken into commission in 1990.
Facing the challenges head on
In spite of many uncertainties during the beginning phases, Nakara approached all the new challenges with the innovation for which the company had become known. With the new tannery in place, Nakara became the only enterprise of its kind able to produce Swakara skins, as well as leather and leather products of international standards. Nakara also diversified its product range, producing exotic furniture leathers, which are exported to upholstery manufacturers in South Africa and Europe. Nakara furthermore produces a wide range of leather garments, ostrich bags and accessories, and game skins and other animal-hide products, which are sold mainly at Nakara’s boutiques in Windhoek and Swakopmund.
Highlights and special achievements
In its 33-year lifespan, Nakara has achieved a great deal, both locally and abroad. Highlights include being one of only a few designers invited to the Swakara fashion show held in Rome in 1992; being the sponsor of the National Costume for Miss Namibia’s since 1992, starting with Michelle McLean; being crowned the winner of the J&B Rare Designers Collection in 1993 and 1995; walking away with the Tannery of the Year Award for Africa in 2011; processing skins for international fashion labels; and annually hosting a sale at the Nakara factory store that draws crowds in their masses.
The company today
Kevin’s persistence and knack for innovation paid off and the business grew so rapidly that the premises required another major renovation in 2003. An investment of N$15 million equipped the Nakara factory with advanced technology, enabling the scale of production it is capable of achieving today.
What sets Nakara apart?
Nakara handles the entire production, from processing the raw skin to finishing the product for the shelf. Quality is the highest priority, while teamwork and a holistic approach by everyone involved are vital. The Nakara brand is highly sought after and appreciated by buyers both local and from abroad. “We work with an indigenous, sustainable product,” explains Brigitte Davidow. Keeping things local is also on top of the Davidow’s priority list, even to the extent of training designers. “We have very talented people in Namibia. Why import skills if you have it all here?”
Brigitte says her family’s favourite place in Namibia is Swakopmund. Why? “Because it’s a beautiful town with great weather – even when it’s misty! We travel a lot for business reasons, and Swakopmund is where we take a break and wind down. It is the one place where we can really relax.”
This article originally appeared in the 2013 Spring Travel News Namibia publication.