Meet the women

Justine Schafer


Lothar Schafer honed his skills in maroquinerie in his native Offenbach, Germany, during the 1950s. Travels to Egypt would bring him to meet his future wife Denise, of Frano-Italian and Lebanese descent. Together, they embarked upon a journey down the continent, bringing classical European skills and influence along with them.  In Cape Town, the family built a business set to last generations. Today, the family oversee over 80 South African artisans and continue to instill the unwavering quality, pursuit of beauty and age-old traditions of the handcraft brought to them all by Lothar and Denise.

Lothar and Denise’s legacy continues to thrive in the hands of their sons Robert, second-generation master artisan with over 4 decades of experience and Richard, whom heads up the sales department of the business. Their granddaughter Justine, a graduate of Parsons New York, joined the company nine years ago to rise through the ranks, becoming the Creative Director of their in-house brand.

The Origin

Established in 1972, Cape Cobra Leathercraft is a third-generation family-run business that specialises in the design and manufacturing of sustainably-sourced luxury exotic leather handbags and accessories. The brand has locally manufactured for some of the world’s top international design houses, including Tiffany & Co., Judith Leiber, and Michael Kors Collection. Having found international acclaim by becoming Africa’s largest exporter of luxury exotic leather goods, as well as securing a well-established customer base in Europe, the USA, and the UAE, the proudly South African brand continues to make its mark internationally for South Africa. Their distinguished collectors and clientele adore the brand for its timeless luxury, refined designs, and impeccable craftsmanship. Wearing a piece from the atelier is an eloquent expression in the art of eternal style. Looking forward to the next 50 years, Cape Cobra Leathercraft has embraced the fresh energy of the brand’s third-generation family member, Justine Schafer, who is committed to steering the brand towards a sustainable future. With further penetration into the US market, Cape Cobra Leathercraft will strengthen its focus on transparency and traceability by providing insight into best practices, including the entire value chain from farming, tanning, to the artisans who passionately create the CCL collection pieces. Paving the way for African luxury design, Cape Cobra Leathercraft is committed to paying homage to its classic style, while incorporating contemporary and innovative design techniques that appeal to a younger audience. Through continued job creation, empowerment, and community upliftment, the brand endeavours to continue making an impactful difference to the lives of the South African artisans who handcraft its products.