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Up Close & Indego

#new, #inspiration, #handmade, #impact

Our Blog

Rebuilding Through Design

#artisans, #handmade, #weaving, #impact

We’re super excited to tell you about a recent collaboration between Judith Haentjes, a Dutch product designer, and the ladies of Twiyubake—one of our first partner cooperatives.

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We’re super excited to tell you about a recent collaboration between Judith Haentjes, a Dutch product designer, and the ladies of Twiyubake—one of our first partner cooperatives. Twiyubake specializes in the art of banana leaf weaving, a complex and challenging technique. Judith, who works mainly with organic & recycled materials, embraced this challenge, collaborating with the women to create innovative new products with a distinctly geometric feel.

The women of Twiyubake are especially impressive not only for their exceptional artisanal skills, but also their backstory. The word “Twiyubake” means “to rebuild ourselves” in Kinyarwanda, and this is exactly what these women are doing. Made up of genocide widows working side-by-side with the wives of imprisoned génocidaires, this remarkable cooperative fosters unity and reconciliation in post-conflict Rwanda. Here’s what Judith had to say about working with them:

“I had the honor and pleasure to work with seven women, who are part of the Twiyubake family. I spent two weeks with them in their workspace. Together we experimented with banana leaves and developed some new products for Indego Africa. It was an absolutely touching experience for me, as they welcomed me warmly, were extremely open towards me and motivated to make the most out of the weeks.

It was definitely a new experience for both sides. Me as a European product designer travelling to the countryside of Rwanda to collaborate with women that I don’t share a language with (I had a translator) and that are culturally very different from me. And on the other side seven women from Kayonza that have a designer, a profession that they don’t fully grasp, coming to work with them. We definitely needed a warming up period with each other, but it became such a successful time because we stayed open to each other. In addition these ladies are very distinguished in their craft and have a great group dynamic, which makes it very easy to work with them. After two weeks I had learned so many things about these women’s lives and became so fond of them that it was difficult for me to leave. All of them are truly fascinating, lovely, warm and talented women.”

Photographs from Twiyubake courtesy of Judith Haentjes
Photographs from Twiyubake courtesy of Judith Haentjes
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People, Places & Things

#art, #africa, #artisans

Magic Ladders Exhibit at the Barnes Museum We love people, places and things – here is a person that creates beautiful things that you can see at a place!

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Meet Yinka Shonibare – the artist behind the stunning and provocative Magic Ladders exhibit at The Barnes Museum in Philadelphia. Born in Britain but raised in Nigeria, Shonibare subversively examines the relationship between Europe and Africa through the colonial and postcolonial period.

The Magic Ladders exhibit is sponsored by Anthropologie and features Shonibare’s signature life-sized mannequins clothed in colorful Dutch wax fabrics produced in Europe but most closely associated with Africa (similar to those we package our products in!) These dramatic, playful, and irreverent sculptures are both visually spectacular and deeply thought provoking, inviting the viewer to think critically about notions of race, gender, and cultural identity*.

So if you’re in the Philly area, we highly recommend checking out this exhibit. And if you’re not then…ROAD TRIP!

Details:

Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders

The Barnes Foundation

2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy

Philadelphia, PA 19130

Dates: January 24-April 21

*Some language provided by the Barnes Museum.

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International Women’s Day: Inspiring Change

#artisans, #community

We love this word because it so perfectly describes the incredible women artisans we partner with in Rwanda. That’s why we’re thrilled that the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “inspiring change”!

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This phrase encapsulates both the awesome, jaw-dropping, and INSPIRING changes we’ve seen in the communities of women we work with, and the way our artisan partners continue to INSPIRE change by re-investing their income and energy in their communities.

(Phew, that was a lot of inspires. But we’re not done yet…)

Inspiring Indego Women
Inspiring Indego Women

Our goal is to inspire change by empowering women. Recently, we’ve followed through on that mission on our own staff! As of January 1st, Karen Yelick has been promoted to CEO, thus making Indego Africa an entirely women-led and almost-entirely-female organization (we love you, Yves!)

We also have big (and we mean BIG) plans ahead for this year that we can’t wait to share with you.

Ok…one sneak preview? We’ll be launching a newly improved version of our already stellar education and training programs that will help women artisans become pioneers of progress in their communities.

So to all our readers out there: what inspires you and how will you inspire change this year? Eager minds want to know.

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You’ve Got a Friend

#community, #artisans

We are thrilled to announce our newest line of accessories, the Alia Collection, featuring a trendy twist on a childhood classic: friendship bracelets. Made with love by our artisan partners at Ibyishimo, these whimsical handcrafted bracelets are the perfect new addition to your arm party.

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The Alia Collection was inspired by one of our most exemplary friends, Alia Tutor. A member of our Board of Directors, and a passionate advocate for the women entrepreneurs we work with, Alia’s generous dedication to Indego has helped empower our artisan partners to rise from poverty and pursue their dreams.

So the Alia Collection is a celebration of friendship—a celebration of care and generosity and all of the wonderful things they bring.

We hope you’ll wear a bracelet and spread the love.

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