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Up Close & Indego

#new, #inspiration, #handmade, #impact

Our Blog

Selvage to Salvage

Join us May 5th-7th at Eskayel’s new Williamsburg showroom for a pop-up shop featuring products designed and created by female artisans using up-cycled fabric remnants!

Indego has partnered with Eskayel on a limited-edition collaboration made from up-cycled Eskayel fabric remnants and featuring baskets and bowls handmade by our amazing artisan partners in Rwanda. Other collaborations include sustainable adornments/art by Tamika Rivera of CUYO, and pouches and purses made by Honduran artisans in collaboration with Mi Esperanza. A selection of new upholstered items, flat weave rugs, prints, and more will also be available.

Proceeds from the weekend-long pop-up sale will benefit the talented artisan partners of Indego Africa and Mi Esperanza. 

OPENING PARTY

Date: Friday, May 5, 2017

Time: 6pm - 10pm

Location: 75 South 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249 in Williamsburg between Berry and Wythe

Featuring tamale’s, mezcal, a salsa bar, tequila, and cava, plus shopping and the opportunity to visit with Mi Esperanza’s Co-Founder, Janet Hines, and our very own Creative Director, Deirdre King!

POP UP SHOP

Date: Saturday & Sunday, May 6 - 7, 2017

Time: 12pm - 6pm

Location: 75 South 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249 in Williamsburg between Berry and Wythe

#indegodiaries, #framebridge

Photographed in Rwanda, Framed by Framebridge

A behind-the-scenes look at our Marketing & Brand Manager’s recent trip to Rwanda and the inspiration behind our newest print collection with Framebridge.

Our Marketing & Brand Manager, Brittany Barb, recently returned from Rwanda with new photographs that capture the sights, colors, people, and positive vibes of our Indego Africa community.

We wanted to know a little bit more about the creative process behind Indego’s newest prints, and hear from Brittany herself about the beautiful people, places, and things that inspire her photography.

Read below for an inside look at Brittany’s travels, her favorite images, and what’s to come in Indego’s creative future. We hope you’re as inspired by the vibrant colors, remarkable people, and breathtaking landscapes of Rwanda as we are!

Shop the collection here! 

***

What do you love about Indego Africa? 

Honestly, what don’t I love about Indego Africa?! To be able to work for an organization that empowers women and has true, measurable impact is really a dream come true. I always knew I wanted to be in a creative field that benefited others, and somehow, I’ve found myself right in middle of one. It is amazing to work for and with incredibly empowered women – it provides me with an endless amount of inspiration and hope, especially at a time when it seems we need it the most. 

What is your favorite thing about traveling to Rwanda and Ghana?

The weather, the scenery, the colors, pretty much everything except the flight! And above all it’s a 24/7 photography marathon – my favorite!

What is your most memorable moment from this trip?

There are always so many memorable moments on these trips, but one that stood out to me during this particular visit was when I was taking portraits at Imirasire, our weaving cooperative in Bugasera. Laurence Uwimana, one of the 138 incredibly talented weavers, stopped to speak to me after I showed her the portrait I had taken. She said, “I love to see the photos you take of me when I am smiling. I feel so happy and open now, and you can see it in the pictures.” That moment truly warmed my heart. 

Can you talk a little bit about the content for and process behind this Framebridge collection

Everything we do at Indego Africa has a ton of color. I’m always pulling over our production car to run down a little side-street and capture that bright pink wall I spotted out of the corner of my eye. I’m always on the hunt for something a little brighter and a little different than what we’ve done before. Once all the shooting is done, we sit down and dig through to find the images that (we think) you might want to hang on your wall!

Do you have a favorite shot from the photos you took in Rwanda? What's the inspiration behind it?

My favorite of these is “Live Colorfully.” This photograph plays off a previous series and our whole general ethos at Indego Africa – Living Colorfully. I absolutely love taking portraits of the women at Imirasire because they are all such strong, empowered, proud women. This photograph, to me, captures that happiness and strength.

What are you most looking forward to on your next trip?

The next trip I will be taking to Rwanda will be for a special project we have been working on here at Indego Africa with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Our Creative Director, Deirdre King, and I will be heading to the Mahama Refugee Camp, where we have been working on a program with 50 refugee women from Burundi. We’re hoping to share the strength, beauty, and resilience of the women there and their hope for the future. Stay tuned!

***

At Indego Africa, we are endlessly inspired by the bright colors, beautiful landscapes, and whimsical designs of Africa. Our collaboration with Framebridge continues to showcase the sights, colors, people, and positive vibes of our some of our favorite spots in Rwanda & Ghana. Shop our newest prints to bring pieces of our travels into your home!

#artisans

The Senufo Stool

We are so excited to announce our newest piece of decor, handmade with heart for your home! These beautiful, handmade stools are carved from a single block of wood with a crescent-shaped seat and flat base. Their simple yet versatile design make them the perfect chair or table for your home.

Each stool is hand-carved by our artisan partners at Ahwiaa Woodcarvers Association in Ghana.  The Senufo Stool is rooted not only in Ghana’s time-honored craft of woodcarving, but also in the rich cultural history and traditional designs of the Senufo tribes in Mali and Ivory Coast. Tradition has it that the Senufo Stool, or Golden Stool, floated out of the sky and landed on the lap of the first Ashanti king, Osei Tutu, who unified the Ghanaian people in the 17th Century. It was then declared that the soul of the nation resided in this stool. 

Our take on the symbolic history, design, and craftsmanship of these stools make every piece unique; each has a different meaning for the person whose soul it seats. 

We are excited to continue working with the Ahwiaa Wood Carvers Association to carry on Ghana’s legacy of traditional wood-carving and introduce the Senufo Stool to its growing collection of handmade products. 

To shop our hand-carved Senufo Stools, and bring a touch of West African design to your home, click here.

#indegodiaries

Hope & Remembrance

Today, April 7th, 2017, marks the 23rd commemoration of the Rwandan genocide in which more than 800,000 people were killed over the course of 100 days. In honor of this day, we want to take a moment to reflect and pay tribute to those who continue to endure the effects of those tragic events.

On this day of remembrance, we also want to recognize the incredible progress that Rwanda has made over the past two decades.

Before the genocide, women in Rwanda did not have equal rights as men—they could not inherit land, open a bank account, or work outside the home without their husband’s permission. 

However, when the genocide ended, Rwanda was 70% female—women were left to rebuild their country. They cared for children on their own and took in orphans; they paved roads and repaired buildings; they sowed fields and collected the harvest. They tried as best they could to piece their lives back together. 

Today, Indego Africa is honored to share the powerful story of one of our dedicated artisan partners who is not only building a new life for herself, but also creating a brighter future for her country. 

***

I was a child during the genocide, but I remember being separated from my parents, and my mom asking my sister to take care of me before they left. I never saw them again.

In the years since, I have learned about the genocide and always wondered why friends, neighbors, and other family members did not help my parents. 

Before the genocide, I remember being a happy child and drinking a lot of milk. My family had a lot of cows and that meant that we were not poor. Our parents took care of us and provided us with what we needed.

After the genocide, this was no longer the case. I survived with my siblings and we had nothing. Our cows were slaughtered and our parents were no longer with us. We had to learn how to manage on our own and live a new kind of life, because the comfortable one we were used to had stopped so abruptly.

I grew up hating everyone, thinking that they were bad. I hated my life and everything that came with it. I hated school even though I knew it was supposed to help me gain the skills and knowledge I needed to improve my life.

I failed out of my high school and life became even worse, but one day I managed to find some training in sewing and my life slowly began to improve. When I heard about Cocoki, I joined the cooperative and started working closely with other women. 

When Cocoki partnered with Indego Africa, we started improving our skills and working on brand new designs, which brought excitement and joy into my life. 

The more time I spent at Cocoki, the easier it became to make friends and open up to some of my colleagues. I started making decisions that helped improve my life.

Now I have my own bank account, driving license, and a piece of shared land with my siblings. Our goal is to build a house, just like the home we used to have with our parents. I now provide for myself and help raise my little nephew, but I know even more is coming; I just have to work hard and continue to make my parents proud.

I have found a new home at Cocoki, and I know I have a great future ahead of me.

#indegodiaries, #inspiring, #entrepreneurs, #vocationaltraining

Meet The Gahembe Girls!

In 2016, Indego Africa launched its Vocational Training program in Rwanda for young people seeking a career path. Upon graduation, students had the option to join the cooperative they had interned with or start their own. That’s why we wanted to introduce you to 15 women from Rwanda’s Bugesera District who came together and decided to launch their very own basket weaving enterprise, Gahembe. These #bossladies took the skills they learned from participating in Indego’s Vocational Training program at other cooperatives and applied them to their brand new business venture.

As the founding members of Gahemebe Cooperative, one of Indego’s newest and most successful partner cooperatives, these women have a lot to share. To find out what it takes to be an empowered woman, a successful entrepreneur, and a mentor to other girls, we interviewed five of Gahembe’s leading #bossladies: Violate, Claudette, Claudine, Meditrice, and Lilianne. Learn more about Indego’s Vocational Training program here and read the powerful interview below!

What does being an empowered businesswoman mean to you? 

Violate Mukazigama, 25: “I feel lucky to be an entrepreneur. I work every day and earn money to buy the things I need and save for the future. Being an empowered woman means being someone who can not only make positive changes in her own life, but can also bring positivity to the lives of others. To be empowered is to empower other people as well.”

Claudette Mukeshimana, 26: “It feels good to be able to plan for my future and use the income I earn to make decisions for myself. Being an independent, empowered woman means being a valuable part of society.”

Claudine Mukabera, 27: “I am so happy because now I can do things I wasn’t able to do before, like weaving baskets and working in a cooperative with other women. As an empowered woman, I have the knowledge and confidence to achieve the things I want in life.” 

Meditrice Tuyisabe, 26: “Being an empowered woman means being a strong woman who can not only help herself, but also help others in her community reach their goals. I feel proud to be an entrepreneur because now I am the decision maker and no longer need other people to provide everything for me.”

Lilianne Mukanshuti, 25: “It makes me happy to be an entrepreneur who has started my own business. An empowered woman means being independent, strong, and confident. Now I earn income and decide for myself how to use that income.”

What does it mean to be a good leader?

Lilianne“A good leader is a good decision maker. She always thinks about how to make positive changes for her organization.”

Violate: “To be a good leader is to be honest and disciplined. A good manager treats the people she leads as her equals, and works with them without looking for personal gain.”

Claudine:  “A good leader must be a good listener and a good manager of time. She is smart, skillful, and thoughtful, and always puts other people’s interests above her own.”

How has your partnership with Indego Africa impacted your life?

Claudette: “Before working with Indego Africa, I never believed I could weave, let alone make a business out of it. Now, I not only make money from weaving, but I also help manage Gahembe Cooperative and have plans to expand my business in the future.”

Meditrice: “I feel proud to be an entrepreneur because now I am the decision maker. I no longer need other people to provide everything for me. Partnering with Indego Africa has opened my mind and given me the courage to become an independent person who does not need to rely on other people’s income.”

Claudine:  “Joining a co-op and working together with other women has completely changed my life. There is nothing better than finding people who help you grow and using the skills you’ve learned to turn your dreams into reality.”

What is a piece of advice you would give to other women starting their own business?

Claudette: “Be creative and don’t be afraid to work hard.”

Meditrice: “Don’t be afraid to fail. Anything is possible with a willing heart.” 

Claudine:  “Be self-reliant, be confident, and always save for the future.”

Violate: “Always work hard and never get discouraged.”

Lilianne: “Think outside the box. You may be surprised by how much you can accomplish.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. These women are true inspirations to working #bossladies everywhere and we are honored to be a part of their journey. Stay tuned for more!