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P.S - A Conversation with Erica

On Erica Domesek’s recent trip to Rwanda she visited our partner cooperatives, worked side-by-side with the women artisans, wandered and shopped the vast markets, immersed herself in the rich Rwandan culture, and instantly it was a match made it patch heaven! Inspired by her love of fun colors, quirky objects, and gallant animals—the #PSxIndegoAfrica Patch sets were born. Here is more about what inspires her and how our colorful mission for good began:

How would you describe your personal style and how does that influence your business?

Colorful. I love mixing funky patterns, colors, and textures to create new styles and fun outfits. Reinventing things in your wardrobe is fun and allows you to be creative. At P.S. – I made this… we call it comfort with a twist—taking things people can identify with and adding a twist to it. It is one part customization and one part personalization. 

Walk us through your creative process for a new DIY project. 

Everything starts with inspiration—traveling, window-shopping, shopping in boutiques, walking down the street, and reading magazines. Finding something that pops out and you can identify with is key. It is the eye-catching moments that help shape the creative process—I see it, I like it, I make it. Craft Math was born through this process. We divide the steps it takes, create an easy formula to design the product and show the simplest way to make it. 

Why does Indego Africa's mission resonate with P.S.- I made this...? 

Indego represents everything I am passionate about—art, education, women, sustaining life, cooperation, and community. The idea that these artisans can create beautiful goods and sell them and sustain a life for their families and communities—at the most basic and pure form—is beautiful. Their workmanship and skill is phenomenal. The sheer detail and time they spend on each stitch, design, and product is remarkable. My passion to help others and spotlight talent is also represented through Indego’s mission. From the onset it was clear we had a shared ethos—creating a dynamic synergy.

photos by Ryan Gall
photos by Ryan Gall

What new projects were inspired by your trip to Rwanda?

So much inspiration! I fell in love with the beautiful vistas, the plants and wildlife, and the rich culture. Our trips to the imaginative and vibrant markets provided for new product inspiration and ideas. I purchased colorful fabrics that I plan to use and incorporate into designs and new products back in New York. 

What is the significance behind the designs of the 

patches

?

I have always had an affinity for topography, wildlife, and rich landscapes. Our trip in Rwanda provided for an opportunity to see the picturesque landscapes, animals, and vibrant countryside. The Crowned Crane is hands down the most gorgeous animal on the planet—and seeing it up close provided for so much inspiration when thinking about designs. The patches are comprised of colorful animals, playful fruits, and vivid objects—encompassing our love for color and the happy moments we experience in life. 

You, like many of our artisan partners, started your own business. What do you think it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?

You have to LOVE what you do. Show PASSION for what you do, be real about what you create and be TRUE to yourself. If you create a product to sell a product, then that is great, and it works for some; for me, it takes heart and soul to run a company and in that success is created and illustrated. I am my own customer speaking to my own audience. 

photos by Ryan Gall

At Indego Africa, we are all about empowering women. What in your life has empowered you to become the person you are today?

I was always encouraged to follow my interests. I did not think that I would be able to “craft a career” out of P.S. – I made this…, however I always had an extremely supportive network of people who believed in what I did. Having the right people in your life is important and helps shape who you are.

Why do you support Indego Africa? Inquiring minds want to know.

Indego Africa manifests our motto of doing well by doing good. I believe in their mission to empower women through sustainable business. I think we all have a responsibility to give back where and when we can. Some people have the means to give money, where others can only give their time and energy. It is important for us to give wherever and whenever we can. In this and age, everyone is able to find and do something - small, medium or large - to make a difference. We should constantly strive to find other passions outside of our normal confines. Indego Africa exemplifies doing well by doing good and they exhibit this each day from Rwanda all the way to New York City.

Get your #PSxIndegoAfrica patches! >>>

 

#inspiring, #art, #psxindegoafrica, #new

Marnani Design for PSxIndegoAfrica

Martha Napier is the lead illustrator behind the fashionable, sparkly, and whimsical illustration brand, Marnani. She is also the artist behind the gorgeous watercolor illustrations that come with our PSxIndegoAfrica patch sets! We chatted with her to find out more about her creative process, what she’s inspired by, and why she supports Indego Africa. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you get involved with the PSxIndegoAfrica project? 

Actually, this was completely a chance of fate. I have always been a fan of P.S. I Made This (I’m an avid crafter myself, and obviously love to work with my hands), and recently had the pleasure of connecting with Erica. She was really the brainchild in asking me to come on board with the collaboration with Indego Africa. Needless to say, an instant love-affair was born. I was so pleased to be introduced to the Indego team and it's mission. I also just adore the patches (I’m still coming to grips with the concept that they’re handmade), and what they represent.

Word on the street is that you used to work in the fashion business, at one point serving as Senior Designer in womenswear at Michael Kors. What inspired you to pursue your love of illustration full-time?

Ah, well I love fashion, and I always will. I guess the best answer for this is, to me, illustration, art, fashion—they are all so related. I don’t necessarily feel like I am no longer a designer, though I am obviously not designing clothes anymore (not to say this isn’t in the plans for the future!). Right now, what I love about illustration, is I feel like it’s the link between fashion and art. It’s a commercial form of art, and I’m able to paint for a living. I truly could not be more grateful.  My experience at Michael Kors was amazing, and a fantastic education. I had the pleasure of working with the top people in the fashion industry, and to be a part of a brand that just continues to grow its global presence. Ultimately though, I really missed working with my hands, and getting them dirty painting and creating—it was time to launch my own illustration business, Marnani Design! Working for myself has allowed me to pursue the clients I used to dream of working with—the possibilities are endless—now, I just need more hours in the day!

So you’re a fashion-lover, designer, and illustrator. How would you describe your personal style and how does that influence your artwork?

Whimsical, Colorful, Sparkly and TEXTURED. My personal style totally influences my work and visa versa. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t put anything out there for my brand, Marnani, if I don’t like it. That’s the beauty in working for yourself! I think so many designers feel the need to dress in all black, or fit into a mold (chic, minimalist, etc), but I’m just me.  In today’s over-saturated market, I think the more you can stand out, be authentic, and even be “colorful”—literally, and in spirit, the stronger your point of view will be.

We absolutely love how fun, whimsical, and electrifyingly colorful your illustrations are. Walk us through your creative process. 

First of all, Thank you!—My goal is to always make colorful, charming, and whimsical work that put simply, just makes people happy.  I want to create joy with my work.  Living in a city like New York, the air is just so rich with inspiration. I know it sounds like a cliche, but it's also the undeniable truth. New York has it all--I find myself walking everywhere, more recently, I ride my bike.  As I ride, and as I walk, I am constantly an active, observant sponge. I soak up colors, textures, sights, smells---anything and everything, to eventually put them to the paper with watercolors (I try to bring paints with me, at the least, I always have a sketch book). Whether I am working on a client project, or personal work, I usually try to educate myself on the subject by gathering “visual ephemera,” and then I usually sketch a few times before working on the final piece. My iPhone probably has one too many pictures on it (I’m always snapping “visual notes). Recently, I have challenged myself to only sketch with paint (no pencil first), as this really unleashes my personal style, and results in a fresher, more authentic end result.  I have been illustrating “live” much more at corporate and private events, which also encourages this, as I am forced to capture the subject in a matter of fleeting seconds. Oh, and Instagram! My creative process always involves instagram!

We are inspired by the vibrant colors, patterns, and landscapes of Rwanda. What inspires you?

Color, color, and more color!  Truly-- anything unique, or just happens to catch my eye. I think this has a lot to do with an emotional response—I seek art, products, clothing, which tell a story, and which I can connect to. In today’s mass-produced and over-consumed world, the precious nature of the handcrafted good is so special. That’s what I think is so great about Indego Africa—you empower women across the world in Rwanda by showing them their skillsets are valued, and even desired. The fact that many of these women have these skillsets, which are rare today, and almost a dying art---their work is inspiring to me as an artist! I am so glad their skills are being celebrated in a significant way.

Personalize & customize – these are two of the main tenets of the DIY lifestyle that P.S. I made this… is innovatively spreading around the world. So, what would you do with PSxIndegoAfrica’s collection of hand-embroidered patches?

It’s funny you should ask-- Erica actually asked me this exact question when we first met in her studio to discuss the project. I love the ideas that the P.S I Made This team put together—but if I had to come up with one on my own, I would love to take two and make earrings! I am all about things not matching. One day, I would love to start a line of shoes that don’t match—so why not start with earrings that don’t?  I think I’d probably start with the teal bananas and the rainbow elephant. Who wouldn’t want those as fun earrings?

You, like many of our artisan partners, started your own business. What do you think it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?

Oh gosh, what a tough one. There is so much that goes into running a successful business, and honestly, I am still figuring out a lot of these things myself! However, I would say what I think what sets people apart is just good old-fashioned hard work. Living in New York, I have met so many wonderfully inspiring people, all with great ideas. However, ideas are nothing, without some real sweat and persistence. You many not figure it out right away, but I truly believe if you keep going, stay the path, and surround yourself with good mentors, and positive thinkers, you can have a successful business.

At Indego Africa, we are all about empowering women. What in your life has empowered you to become the person you are today?

My best friends and I always remind each other of what was told to us on our college commencement day -- we have won the “lottery of life.” This is so true in so many various ways. While like anyone else, I have faced my share of adversity in my life, I have also been amazingly blessed. I have parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends -- and now a husband -- whom all believe in me and cheer me on. I truly don’t know where I would be without their support and energy. I also come from a long line of strong and successful women. It was just in my blood to grow up, utilize my talents, be thankful and humble, and always challenge oneself to strive to measure up to your potential. 

Why do you support Indego Africa?

As I mentioned before, I am so thankful to have been introduced to Indego Africa by the PSIMT team. I can say I will definitely be an avid supporter moving forward. I think working on the PSxIndegoAfrica project definitely inspired me to connect with other artisans, and appreciate handmade goods. I also firmly believe in the importance in supporting female artisans and entrepreneurs.  In a way, I rely on this myself.  If I didn’t have an audience, clients, or customers, I would not be in business. As an artist, I also think what separates Indego Africa, is their ability to curate these truly stunning pieces -- they are works of art, in my opinion. There isn’t a single piece that I wouldn’t absolutely adore in my home or closet. Usually a procrastinating shopper, I am thrilled it’s July, and I already know where I’m doing my holiday shopping this year!  The best part -- I will be pleased to tell the recipients about the women who made them.

See more of Martha's beautiful watercolors here >> 

& grab your patches to get down & DIY! >>>

#artisans, #inspiring, #new, #handmade, #art, #collaboration, #psxindegoafrica, #diy

#PSxIndegoAfrica

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our much-anticipated collaboration with P.S.- I made this… - the innovative lifestyle brand founded by Erica Domesek whose mission is to inspire and empower people around the globe to cultivate their inner-creativity and embrace the ever-growing do-it-yourself (DIY) way of life.

Today the fruits of this crazy-cool & creative partnership can be found for sale on our website: a vibrant, fun, and vividly colored collection of hand-embroidered patches! These iron-on DIY dreams come in sets of two and include inspiration from P.S.- I made this… on how to transform the patches into wearable embellishments on backpacks, sweatshirts, pouches, and more.

The patch collection was inspired by Erica’s passion for vivid color, bold objects and beautiful animals along with our love for Rwanda’s rich culture and landscape. This summer, Erica had the chance to see Rwanda’s rolling green hills, radiant sunsets, and colorful wildlife for herself when she traveled there to meet our local team and visit our partner cooperatives!

Erica, along with Babs Burchfield of Conscious Commerce (the guide to conscious living she co-founded with Olivia Wilde), spent three jam-packed and fun-filled days in Rwanda. Highlights of the trip included ordering custom-made batik jackets at Cocoki, learning how to weave at AJ, and seeing the PSxIndegoAfrica collection come to life in the hands of the talented artisans of IBABA! 

On the last day, Erica taught a class to fourteen of our artisan partners on creativity, branding, and starting your own business. The women were enthralled by P.S.- I made this…’ story and eager to flip through the pages of Erica’s most recent DIY book, P.S.- You’re Invited. There was such spirited dialogue following the class that our Country Director, Rosine, had to cut the conversation short to make sure Erica didn’t miss her flight! Participants left that day feeling inspired by how much they could accomplish with the knowledge, skills, and creativity they already had. 

"Witnessing the process of my illustrations come to life stitch by stitch before my eyes in Rwanda by the women was incredible. The time, heart and soul the IBABA artisans dedicated to each patch was the purest form of craftsmanship.

Indego Africa is doing amazing things where they strive to educate and employ the women of the cooperatives. Never has an organization opened my eyes and put a lens on DIY in such a beautiful and inspiring way. It's an honor to be apart of their organization and spread our colorful mission for good!" – Erica Domesek 

This feeling of self-empowerment is central to the P.S.-I made this… mission and one of the reasons that we love their work as much at we do. At Indego, we are all about empowering women – through economic opportunities, education, and the handmade process itself. We believe that there is something distinctly special and powerful about seeing a product from start to finish - about putting in passion, artistry, creativity, love, and inspiration, and coming away with a unique item that is self-made and totally awesome.

We hope that our patch collection will inspire you to get down and DIY - transforming everyday items into new, bold, and beautiful pieces. We can't wait to see what you come up with! Grab your favorite patch set here!

#inspiring, #inspiration, #summer, #new, #artisans, #africa

Summer of Dreams

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our collaboration with Spoke Woven on a beautiful collection of textile dream catchers!

To bring this dream to life, we sat down with Genga – the wildly creative designer behind the iconic oversized dream catchers of Spoke Woven. Over the course of one marvelous day, we learned all about the inspiration behind her craft and filmed an instructional video for our artisan partners so that they too could learn the art of dream catcher weaving.

IA x Spokewoven from Indego Africa on Vimeo.

Once the video was complete, we sent it along to the artisans of Ibyishimo who quickly mastered the new technique – handcrafting an array of gorgeous textile dream catchers that we are thrilled to now offer on our website. 

One of the {many} things we love about this collaboration is the deep cultural history and mythology surrounding dream catchers. A longstanding Native American tradition, dream catchers are meant to protect sleepers from bad dreams, allowing only positive ones to enter the minds of those at rest. The belief is that bad dreams will get caught in the dream catcher’s web and vanish when struck with the first rays of the morning sun. Happy dreams, on the other hand, will float through the hole in the center of the dream catcher and gently glide down the feathers or fabric to reach the sleeping person below.

We were delighted to bring these traditions across the globe to our artisan partners in Rwanda and we hope that you too will be inspired by the unique blend of Native American and Rwandan traditions encompassed in these textile wonders. As Genga likes to say: All dreams spin out of the same web.

Shop the Dream Catcher Collection >>>