Two representatives from the S.Ribak International Fur Broker, Klaus-Dieter Ribak and his wife Susanna Ribak visited Agra’s Pelt Centre and various Swakara farmers recently. They took the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Swakara farming in Namibia. The couple came at the right time, as they were also able to celebrate the 75th birthday of Mr Ribak, while in the country.
Klaus-Dieter Ribak who hails from Germany first encountered Swakara in London, 1962. Since then, he remained loyal to Swakara. The love for the swakara was influenced by his mother’s love for swakara. She was in the fur business in the late 50s. He never looked back, he bought swakara at each and every auction. “Swakara is a special fashion product in the fur business. Unlike other products, swakara is a flat and stylish fur type with infinite possibilities to work with,” he explains with pride.
In the late 60s, Ribak opened his own fur business that focussed on buying fur, and making fashion items. During his visit to the Pelt Centre, he showed his enormous expertise by preparing and matching pelts for designing. In the late 90s, he retired from the business and advised his wife Susanna to open a Fur Broker Business, using their combined experience and expertise to buy on behalf of their clients. In early 2000, the S. Ribak International Fur Brokers saw the light of the day.
Susanna is the only female broker in the male-dominated fur business world-wide, competing at auctions with men to get the finest furs for her customers. By coincidence, she was raised in Bukhara, where the first Karakul Sheep imported to Namibia came from 108 years ago. Susanna is a former top model of Russia. In 2012, she bought the white swakara skin top lot at a record breaking price of N$ 2,325.48 (1700 DKK), which is the highest price paid ever for a swakara skin at the time. The top lot was bought for a Mosco -based company, Guligaz, to show their partners that they will always get the best. The sale was also prompted by the increased demand of swakara fur in Russia.
Speaking about the future of fur, the Ribaks hinted that the current geographical unrests between Russia and Ukraine affects the business, because Russia has been the main buyer of fur. Anti-fur organisations also pose a threat to the business. But on the positive side, Mr Ribak is optimistic that fur will continue to prosper, if there is proper succession planning. “Just like other businesses, the fur trade is sustainable. But for this business to flourish in the future, we need to teach the young and upcoming furriers on how to work with fur. In Namibia swakara is really keeping the fur trade alive. It is one of the many reasons why I love swakara and why my wife and I am so grateful to this wonderful country. A perfect place to spend my 75th birthday,” he concluded.