I was wondering how to pronounce the name of this amazing shop that supplies Cape Grace with beautiful artistic retail gifts. Is it I’m-a-genius, or Imagine-us? Co-owner Jacqui Hunter set me straight, it’s the latter because she says how can she answer the phone and say, “Hello, I’m a genius”? Either way, I think the play on pronunciation reveals a certain genius!
She certainly has a genius eye when it comes to selecting items that arouse desire and admiration in anyone who sets eyes on them. Jacqui creates relationships with artists and presents their work in the Cape Grace shop; look out for exquisite jewellery from Beloved Beadwork, gold-leaf paintings by Heike Allerton-Davies, ceramic poetry bowls by John the Potter, ethereal porcelain tea lights by Lisa Firer, trendy perspex cuffs by Philippa Green, Homebaked Ceramics by Wendy McLachlan and Kerry Muller’s original paper art, to name just a few!
So, how did Jacqui Hunter get her eye for art and design; was she born with it or did she have to nurture it? The answer is both! It turns out that Jacqui and her sister-in-business Mandy, are from a family who are passionate about hospitality and service – being in the business of hotels and lodges, and grew up in a creative environment with a mother talented in interior design. Jacqui then had stints running safari lodges in Tanzania and SA and added to her job list by sourcing local art and craft for sale at the lodges. This lead to her the position of Group Retail Manager for CC Africa lodges (now &Beyond), but she says, “I fell into retail by accident.”
This accident was a happy chance of fate and when the lovely building at 117 Long Street became available, she and Mandy started Imagenius together. It’s a showcase of contemporary South African art and craft, some of which she brings to Cape Grace as a way of exposing local art to visiting tourists.
Jacqui says you need to understand your customer and her years in hospitality have given her the ability to do just that in her own fun, creative way. Her prerequisite for stocking items is that they must show high quality craftsmanship, whether it’s a frivolous novelty or a serious artwork.
She is very involved with the artists; encouraging and supporting their creative process and says the bonus is, “they are all such nice people who do beautiful work that is genuine and heartfelt!”