RWANDA, GHANA & NEW YORK CITY

SHIBUI Issue - - CONTENTS -

A beau­ti­ful part­ner­ship, de­signed in New York and hand­made in Africa.

DE­SIGNED IN NEW YORK CITY AND HAND-MADE WITH LOVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLOBE, THESE AR­TI­SANS OF RWANDA AND GHANA ARE WORK­ING HAND-IN-HAND WITH THE TEAM AT INDEGO AFRICA TO CRE­ATE A BEAU­TI­FUL LIFE­STYLE RANGE, THAT IN RE­TURN IS HELP­ING TO SUS­TAIN THEIR FAM­I­LIES, COM­MU­NI­TIES AND CUL­TURAL CRAFTS­MAN­SHIP.

HOW, WHEN AND WHY DID THE INDEGO AFRICA (IA) VI­SION BE­GIN?

Indego Africa was founded in 2007 with a sim­ple idea: em­power women ar­ti­sans in Africa by show­cas­ing their beau­ti­ful craft and in­vest­ing in the power of ed­u­ca­tion.

Since our found­ing, Indego’s mis­sion has al­ways been to help ar­ti­sans lift them­selves and their fam­i­lies out of poverty and be­come em­pow­ered busi­ness­women. We team up with groups of women in Rwanda and Ghana to sell prod­ucts that are de­signed in New York

City and hand­made in Africa – us­ing tra­di­tional tech­niques, lo­cal ma­te­ri­als, and gen­uine ar­ti­sanal skill. All 100% of Indego’s prof­its, along with do­na­tions, are in­vested into busi­ness, en­trepreneur­ship, and tech­nol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams for the ar­ti­sans who hand­craft our prod­ucts.

AS THE CRE­ATIVE DI­REC­TOR OF IA, IT MUST BE AN EN­RICH­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE TO BE COL­LAB­O­RAT­ING WITH THESE WON­DER­FUL AFRICAN COM­MU­NI­TIES ON A DAY-TO-DAY BA­SIS. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT WORK­ING WITH THESE LO­CALS?

I love how col­lab­o­ra­tive the process is. These groups of ar­ti­sans look to us for mar­ket and busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties, and we look to them for pro­duc­tion and a chance to show the world their ex­cep­tional artistry and crafts­man­ship. See­ing how much ded­i­ca­tion to and pas­sion for craft they have is so in­spir­ing to me. It helps shape the vi­sion of our brand in the best pos­si­ble way.

I also love how, as part­ners, we’ve been able to grow to­gether. I started at Indego Africa six years ago, when many of our part­ners were also just form­ing their busi­nesses. Look­ing back, I feel like we were all ba­bies in this jour­ney! We’ve worked through

“INDEGO AFRICA IS A GLOBAL TEAM THAT TRULY PRIDES IT­SELF ON MAIN­TAIN­ING A COL­LAB­O­RA­TIVE CUL­TURE AND A CON­NECTED RE­LA­TION­SHIP WITH THE AR­TI­SANS WE WORK WITH. OUR AR­TI­SAN PART­NERS SHARE OUR PAS­SION FOR ED­U­CA­TION, ARTISTRY, AND THE FU­TURE OF THEIR COUN­TRY, AND IT’S A COM­MON BOND THAT CON­NECTS US AS PART­NERS.” DEIRDRE KING

cul­tural chal­lenges, busi­ness-re­lated bumps in the road, col­lab­o­ra­tive suc­cesses, (epic) fail­ures and, most im­por­tantly, we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced mo­ments of in­cred­i­ble joy, growth, em­pow­er­ment and pride — all to­gether as part­ners. I con­sider the com­mit­ment of these women to our shared mis­sion to be the most es­sen­tial el­e­ment to the suc­cess of our com­pany. I love build­ing this brand to­gether, hand-in-hand with them.

WHERE DOES THE CRE­ATIVE DI­REC­TION FOR AN IA COL­LEC­TION BE­GIN?

The de­sign process looks dif­fer­ent for ev­ery prod­uct but al­ways has the same cre­ative spin be­hind it. The first thing it al­ways starts with is the ar­ti­san el­e­ment it­self. What can our part­ners make with the skills and ma­te­ri­als they have? What will be a good fit for our brand aes­thet­i­cally and will it show­case their artistry? When­ever I’m seek­ing—or see­ing—in­spi­ra­tion, these are the pa­ram­e­ters front and cen­ter in my brain. From there, I fo­cus on us­ing colour and pat­tern to tell a story but also show­cas­ing the power of tex­ture through neu­trals.

I want our prod­ucts to feel happy, well made, and to evoke a ca­sual chic de­sign el­e­ment. We sell home goods, baby and kids’ dé­cor and ap­parel, women’s ac­ces­sories, art and ob­jects, but we al­ways make sure our prod­uct line feels co­he­sive and com­pre­hen­sive. What are the de­signs that would be able to tick all these boxes while also fol­low­ing trends in the mar­kets we serve? The de­sign process can feel sort of like a puz­zle some­times, and that’s be­fore we even start sam­pling!

Once we have an idea that will work, I com­mu­ni­cate with our pro­duc­tion teams in Rwanda and Ghana, who then sit down and work with the ar­ti­sans to see if the piece can come to life the way we want through a tra­di­tional sam­pling process. From there, we re­view, re­design, and re­sam­ple. Then within a few weeks, months, or sea­sons, we have a new prod­uct. It is my fa­vorite part of the job to be a part of this global de­sign process.

IS THERE AN IN­SPI­RA­TIONAL MO­MENT YOU WISH TO SHARE?

I have had so many fa­vorite mo­ments work­ing with the ar­ti­sans over the years but one thing that truly stands out for me is see­ing their level of ded­i­ca­tion and pas­sion for artistry come through in the prod­ucts we sell. Our ar­ti­san part­ners are in­cred­i­bly hard­work­ing and tal­ented, and it is in­spir­ing to see the beau­ti­ful prod­ucts that come from their work and com­mit­ment. Indego con­tin­ues to play a trans­for­ma­tional role in the lives of so many women and we are lucky to be a part of some­thing so spe­cial and unique!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL DES­TI­NA­TION AND WHY?

Rwanda will al­ways have a spe­cial place in my heart. Not only is the coun­try beau­ti­ful, the history rich and thought pro­vok­ing, the peo­ple friendly, kind and lively, but the at­mos­phere is one of hope and en­thu­si­asm for col­lab­o­ra­tion, hard work, and in­no­va­tion. On top of that, there is so much de­vel­op­ment and new­ness hap­pen­ing there — each visit is like the first time in the best way. I am so proud to work with and in Rwanda and I think it is truly a beau­ti­ful coun­try, on so many lev­els and in so many ways.

SHIBUI & Co. would like to thank Indego Africa and their ar­ti­san part­ners for shar­ing their story with us.

Indego’s ar­ti­san part­ners show off their fin­ished prod­ucts at Imi­rasire Co­op­er­a­tive in Rwanda.

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE Sweet­grass bun­dles ready to be wo­ven into bas­kets at Co­vanya Co­op­er­a­tive in Rwanda; Rwanda -“the land of a thou­sand hills”; One of Indego’s ar­ti­san part­ners and Vo­ca­tional Train­ing stu­dents weav­ing a bas­ket at Josepha Co­op­er­a­tive in Rwanda.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.