Running a handmade shop adds so much passion to my life. Adrian and I were talking just a few weeks ago and he told me how much joy it gave him to watch me tap into that passion. Running a business and creating is in my veins. It is life-giving and empowering.
For most of us Westerners, starting a business is within reach. A leap of faith, a risk, yes, but possible. Attainable.
Transport yourself for a moment with me to the small town of Kayonza, Rwanda. Rwanda, the most densely populated African nation, that in 1994 was ravaged by a genocide leading to upwards of 500,000 killings over just 100 days.
Nearly 16 years later, 25 women from Kayonza banded together to take a risk with Indego Africa, a design-driven social enterprise connecting African women artisans with global markets and education.
When they started, the Kayonza women “had no bank accounts, no place to work, no equipment, and no specialized training.”
And the women had something else in common: each of them a mother. And not just a mother, but a mother to a child born of rape from the 1994 genocide. The physical and psychological consequences of their reality, coupled with a lack of very basic resources like clean water and adequate food, well, I would say those factors put running a successful business out of reach, wouldn’t you?
Yet today, those women sew their hearts out. But not in harsh factory conditions or for unfair wages. No, they are part of one of 11 such Indego cooperatives that “lifts women-owned businesses in Rwanda toward sustainable economic independence through access to markets and education.”
Indego recently provided me a gift card to shop their products and share with you.
Wearing: Banana Hoop Earrings ($15)
The hoop earrings were made by the artisans of the Twiyubake Family cooperative, where genocide widows work side-by-side with the wives of imprisoned génocidaires who killed their families, fostering “unity and reconciliation through economic community.” Well if that isn’t grace…I cannot express the beauty and value of wearing an item that represents a story of redemption.
wearing J Crew Cloth Wrap Bracelet in Pink ($15)
Indego Africa has an eye for design, too, and is making waves with cutting edge collaborations with brands like J.Crew and Nicole Miller.
One Indego artisan described what her work means to her:
“I can now take care of all my basic household needs and I no longer have to turn away from my children in shame because I cannot provide for them. I can send all six of them to school, and give them the chance for a better future.” – Claudine, 45
Textile Patch Notecards ($20)
One of these notecards will definitely be framed somewhere in our house. They are beautiful!
I know you hear me talk about fair trade often here on the blog. But are you starting to see the beauty of it? The physical beauty of a well-made item, and also, the beauty of a product that means opportunity and hope for a woman that would never have known it otherwise?
Oh friends, it’s a beautiful thing.
Please take a minute to head over to shop Indego Africa’s beautiful summer line now.
Leave a comment + let us know what your favorite item is!
disclosure: I received an Indego gift card in order to share about their brand on this site. All opinions are 110% my own! I only recommend products I can wholeheartedly recommend. I dislosure in accordance with the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission. Read my full disclosure here.
sharing this post with What I Wore Wednesday