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Up Close & Indego

#new, #inspiration, #handmade, #impact

Our Blog #forthebabes

Introducing Handspun Knits- For Kids!

#artisans, #inspiring, #handmade, #forthebabes

We love supporting Handspun Hope, an organization that is not only changing women’s lives, but also creating 100 percent made-in-Rwanda products with a beautiful story behind every stitch.

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That's why we're excited to introduce a new line of kids' knits, made from 100 percent organic, merino wool and photographed on the granddaughters of the knitters themselves!

At the Handspun Hope cooperative in Musanze, Rwanda, women spin local sheep’s wool into 100% organic merino yarn. The artisans first clean and untangle the wool and then feed each strand into a spinning wheel, making one ply of yarn at a time. 

Once the yarn is ready, the women dye it by hand, often using local plant, flower, and vegetable material—like eucalyptus leaves, local flora, avocado, and onion skins—that they often pick on their way to work in the morning. The final result is soft, high-quality merino yarn that is naturally-made, beautifully-dyed, 100 percent organic and eco-friendly from start to finish.

Our new line of knit sweaters, vests, and accessories for kids were photographed on the farm where they were made, featuring the green hills of Rwanda, and adorable lambs and merino bunnies!

Shop our new line of handspun knits for kids here.

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Baskets #ForTheBabes!

#collaboration, #forthebabes, #handmade

Our brand-new baby bassinets were handmade in collaboration with Design Dua—a design company that employs rural artisan women in the north of Ghana. We teamed up to create an exclusive collection of baskets, handwoven out of elephant grass and accented with pink or white leather handles. Designed with your little one in mind, these baskets are perfect for rest or for play and help support artisans in northern Ghana!

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Design Dua was founded by Coretta Owusu, a lawyer and entrepreneur with a passion for design, creativity, and social change. Coretta grew up in the United States but often traveled to Ghana to visit relatives. After graduating from college, she decided to move to Ghana and, while living there, found herself continuously inspired by the local crafts and artisan techniques she encountered.

Coretta moved back to the U.S. to attend law school but knew that her ultimate goal was to create businesses that would help drive growth in Ghana. In 2015, after launching several new enterprises in Ghana’s hospitality and travel industries, Coretta channeled her passion for design to start Design Dua. Her mission? To inspire modern families to incorporate African-inspired products into their homes and everyday lives.

Design Dua works with artisan weavers in Ghana’s northern Bolgatanga region to help them earn fair income for their beautiful artistry. When she first started, Coretta found that many of the basket weavers were not keeping track of their raw material expenses and were selling their baskets at cost without even realizing it. This practice left many women caught within a static cycle—they were unable to move forward, earn sustainable income, or build up their own businesses.

Design Dua addresses these issues by covering the cost of raw materials for the artisans and paying them fair wages for their work. Like Indego, Design Dua emphasizes teaching its partners to understand quality control, product standards, and basic business practices—skills that helps artisans become equal players in the global economy.

Coretta reached out to Indego Africa earlier this year after seeing our collaboration with Ghanaian accessories brand, A.A.K.S. Coretta was drawn to Indego’s blend of modern designs with traditional techniques, as well as our emphasis on social impact and education. 

When we asked Coretta what inspired her in her design process and day-to-day work, she said:

“I love working in Ghana and supporting marginalized women who haven’t had access to the same opportunities  as I have. These products show that Ghana has something to offer. While we may not be considered a destination for manufacturing, we have amazing crafts and artisan-made products. It inspires me to be able to put Ghana on the map through products that are high-quality, well-designed, and have a great story behind them. I try to come up with creative designs that are useful, not just  decorative, and that people can incorporate into their everyday lives.” 

We share Coretta’s mission and inspiration and are excited to launch our collaborative collection of baby bassinets, which reflect our shared love of beautifully handmade products, elegant design, empowering women and, of course, all things baby & kids! To shop and learn more about the products, click here

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Meet the Mamas Behind Our Newest Baby & Kids Collection!

#artisans, #indegodiaries, #forthebabes, #mothersmonth

Meet Umutima: the talented group of artisans behind our latest collection of print-happy, perfect-for-summer baby & kids’ clothes, now available on Target.com!

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Based in Nyamirambo, Rwanda, Umutima (which means “heart” in the Kinyarwanda language) is made up of 30 seamstresses who are known for their beautiful craftsmanship, impeccable detailing, and eye for design. These lovely ladies, most of whom are moms, sewed each item on this collection with love, care, and a touch of sweetness in every stitch.

We chatted with some of Umutima’s seamstresses to hear their thoughts on motherhood and what it’s like to be a working mom in Rwanda. Read their inspiring words below!

Jeanne Hakizimana

30 years old; two children

I work everyday to feed my family and give them everything they need. Some people say work is hard, but nothing feels hard when it’s for my kids. 

Francine Byukusemge

47 years old; eight children

When we are all together, I love talking with my children. As their mom, I try to teach them new things, beyond what they learn in school. I want to teach them about the world and help them have happy lives. 

Francoise Kanakuze

46 years old; four children

I work because I want all of my children to go to school. I want them to learn math, geography, physics, computers. Education will bring them bright futures, and that is what I want for them most of all. 

Bernadette Kamugwera

59 years old; two children 

When my children were young, we loved cooking together and preparing meals as a family. Now that they are older, nothing brings me more joy than to have their children at my home and for us all to cook and eat together.

Eugenie Mubamugunga

46 years old; one child

My son loves soccer and I love to watch him play. It makes me happy to see he has found something he loves. 

To shop our latest baby & kids’ collection, click here

 

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Indego Africa for Target

#collaboration, #artisans, #forthebabes

When it comes to collaborations, Target is the OG: Isaac Mizrahi, Rodarte, Alexander McQueen, Jason Wu, and the list goes on (and on). Lately they’ve nailed it with Who What Wear and Marimekko, and we can hardly wait for Sugar Paper’s line of office essentials (complete with a high gloss desk!) launching in early July.

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​originally posted on Cricket Circle.

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To tide us over, Indego Africa’s line of print-happy pieces for babies and kids launched today. The nonprofit design company partners with a group of Rwandan women who hand-sews the easy-breezy summer pieces, and all profits go to educating those women, who are moms themselves. Check out the cheerful collection below and shop it at target.com.

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#INDEGOKIDS at Target.com!

#forthebabes, #indegokids, #target

We are so excited to share with you our latest collection of baby & kids clothes: a line of perfect-for-summer, print-happy, wear-with-ease rompers, dresses, skirts, shirts and more for little girls and boys alike!

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This collection celebrates the joy of childhood by mixing and matching comfort and ease with bright, happy prints. We created clothes that will take children from the playroom to the park to the party and back again. Each piece is hand-sewn by one of the talented ladies of Umutima Cooperative, a group of 30 seamstresses in Nyamirambo, Rwanda. These women, most of whom are also moms, are creating brighter futures for themselves and their families by sewing each piece of apparel by hand, with heart. 

We are thrilled to announce that our new baby & kids collection is now available on Target.com! Click here to explore, shop, and kick off your little one’s summer in style: 

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland…

#collaboration, #funwithfriends, #forthebabes, #indegokids

There’s something majestic about the winter—its cool, cleansing air, silky white snows and bare-leaved trees that awaken the landscape with their stark geometry. As a child, winter was a time for fun and adventure—a time for wonder, for play, for sledding and for snowmen. We love the way hazel & pine captures that spirit in their most recent photo series featuring our Indego Africa Kids Collection!

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The two cuties photographed below spent a day playing outside Indego-style, wearing some of our pattern-happy textile rompers and shirts, along with hats and vests from our Handspun Hope organic merino wool collection. They even brought along two of their favorite friends – our hand-embroidered sleepy star bunnies! We love how our Indego brights play off the classic winter whites – the perfect way to add a pop of color to any wintry day! Now we want to jump outside in the snow…

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#FunWithFriends : Hazel & Pine

#funwithfriends, #collaboration, #indegodiaries, #forthebabes

As you may already know, we love having fun with friends - like the photography gurus of Hazel & Pine! These talented ladies recently photographed our Indego Africa kids line - a colorful collection of pattern-happy dresses, shirts, rompers & more. We love the way Hazel & Pine captures the magic, joy and playfulness of childhood - which is what our Indego kids line is all about. Don't believe us? Take a peak for your self!

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Parents of the World: De-clutter in Style

#forthebabes, #home, #handmade

Hide Your Plastic With Indego Africa Star Baskets!

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With little ones, comes lots of...plastic. From animals, to toy trucks, and all that fun stuff, sometimes it may seem there can never be enough. For those days when you’re walking through your kiddie’s room and wondering what happened to the floor, we have the perfect solution: our newly launched star-printed fabric baskets! These ultra cute, kid-friendly pieces are a great way to hide all your plastic (plus, with two handles, they’re easy to move around.) Parents of the world: you may now de-clutter in style…
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Sleepykins // A Collected Space for Iris

#indegodiaries, #forthebabes, #indegokids

A guest post from our Creative Director on Babiekins Magazine

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When I was pregnant with Iris and thinking about decorating a nursery, I wanted to have a room that felt both light and airy but also was filled to the brim with playful, unique and meaningful things. I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl so I figured I could start with all-white-everything and add pops of color once our little lovebug arrived. I loved the idea of my little boy or girl growing up and discovering the pieces in their room and me being able to tell a story about each and every one of them. Once Iris arrived and I knew she’d be a collector like me, I wanted even more for her room to feel like a special treasure trove with well-loved pieces that all could grow with her. Naturally, there are many beautiful baskets and items from indego africa and many precious gifts and keepsakes from family and friends. Even now she loves to say hi and by to all her dolls and toys and we often walk around the room and touch all the special pieces. For me, Iris’s room is definitely the most magical place in our home and I hope that when she is in there she feels all the love and the memories that it holds for her.

Shop the Collection!

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Babies & Bolgas!

#collaboration, #forthebabes, #ghana, #babiesandbolgas

Babies…bolgas…babies & bolgas! We were so excited about our newest kiddie clothes & fresh-from-Ghana basket collections that we decided to put them together in a brand new, oh-so-cute photoshoot!

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The wool vests & hats you see in the images below are made by the artisans of Handspun Hope - a True Vineyard Ministries {link: http://www.truevineyard.org/what-we-do/handspun-hope} empowerment initiative that employs  58 people in Rwanda to handspun & dye 100% organic merino wool {to learn more about our partnership, click here}The bolga baskets, a traditional Ghanaian craft, are handwoven out of locally-grown straw and are the latest addition to our quickly growing Ghana collection.

We hope you love these photos and the handmade-with-heart  products in them! You can shop these collections here PLUS find some new made-with-love-in-Rwanda goodies for you and your little ones. Think wrapped wire flamingos, our best-selling “I Heart Bunny,” and our go-to print rompers and bloomers styled for fall.

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Indego Kids in The House!

#forthebabes, #indegodiaries

Indego Africa kids! A celebration of where creativity begins...

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We love the magic, joy and playfulness of childhood and our new line of pattern-happy kids items is inspired by this childlike spirit of fun and adventure! We spent a day with two of the cutest kids around - Peter & Genevieve - to explore the world through Indego colors. We adventured into enchanted forests, frolicked amongst magical flowers, and brought some of our favorite patterned stuffed animals along with us.

Afterwards, Peter & Genevieve told us some of their favorite moments from the day and shared insights into their world of childhood wonders. Here's what they had to say:

What was the best part of today?

Peter: The best part was when we took the picture of me and Genevieve walking over the bridge at a wedding (ed. note: this shot was peter's idea) 

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

Peter: An engineer because I like to build things!

Genevieve: A doctor so I can help people & a teacher so I can teach kids how to read books.

What item did you like wearing the best? Why?

Peter: The bow tie because its handsome.

Genevieve: The dress because its beautiful. 

What makes you smile everyday?

(both): Summer, beach & pool!

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Featurekins: Interview with Creative Director, Deirdre King

#forthebabes, #indegodiaries, #artisans

Originally posted on Babiekins -- Indego Africa is a nonprofit organization that partners with female artisans in Africa to distribute their handmade goods. Partnering with Indego Africa offers the female artisans the opportunity of selling their goods within a global market, which results in empowerment, independence and educational opportunities for the artisans. The brand offers ethnic style jewelry, home decor and a new whimsical nursery line. Deirdre King, Creative Director of the brand, chats with us about the organization’s origin and mission. She also shares some sound advice and lets us in on what inspires her.

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Tell us about the origins of Indego Africa. What is the organization’s mission?

Indego Africa was officially started in late 2007 by Matt and Tom Mitro, a father and son duo. While living in Africa, they were inspired to start Indego after seeing the entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiastic resourcefulness of African women. Matt and Tom were especially moved by the way these women overcame poverty through entrepreneurship. Having developed a sense of commitment to helping these women, they founded Indego Africa years later. Both Tom and Matt remain intimately involved as members of Indego’s Board of Directors.

We believe that empowerment is the key to creating social change. Indego’s mission is to help women in Rwanda break cycles of poverty through economic empowerment and education. We partner with women artisans in Rwanda and sell their beautifully handcrafted products through our e-commerce site, boutiques worldwide, and collaborations with independent designers and brands. We pool profits from sales with grant support and donations to fund job skills training programs for our artisan partners in business management, design, technology, and English literacy, providing them with the knowledge and skills to engage independently with global markets.

Where are the female artisans that produce the items based? How does Indego Africa go about locating and establishing these connections?

We work with female artisans all throughout Rwanda – some close to Kigali and many in further, more rural regions of the country. Having an Indego team on the ground in Rwanda is our key to finding new partner artisans and cooperatives! We partner with women all across the country and many times hear about these small artisans groups through friends of Indego, volunteer recommendations, other nonprofits and design companies and general word of mouth. We think (and hope) that Indego has given our artisan partners a renewed confidence in their skills and in their futures. We are their business partners and take our professional relationship with them very seriously. In turn, we see that they are proud to be members of the cooperative and look forward to building their own businesses to be independent, strong and long-lasting.

As Creative Director of the brand, what fuels your creativity?

Like many creative entrepreneurs, I find inspiration daily – in both the expected (instagram, travel, design trends) and unexpected (my old baby clothes, knick-knacks I’ve collected throughout the years, my husband’s colorful vintage surfboards) ways. I crave inspiration and find that those days I feel inspired-to-create helps my productivity skyrocket! However, I would say my creativity is really fueled by the knowledge that success in my job – whether through designing a popular product, creating a beautiful campaign, landing a killer account – means there will be truly positive impact on the artisan communities that produce our products. There is nothing more empowering for me in my role than knowing that I am supporting the empowerment of our partner artisans.

We would love to know more about your journey as a creative in the world of nonprofit. What advice would you give other creatives that may want to follow a similar path?

I get asked this question a lot and the truth is: I was very lucky to join a small organization while it was at a growing moment and when it needed someone to take the reigns of the creative side of the business (ie I was in the right place at the right time). However, I also worked and created and hustled around-the-clock, learned on the job and from others and taught myself everything else I needed to know to help grow the position I stumbled upon into a successful career.

My advice – if you find something with the potential to become that career you’ve always dreamed of, do whatever it takes to get it there. Work your butt off until you see rewards and even when you don’t (they’ll come!). Also, remember that traditionally non-creative industries don’t have to stay that way forever. We take design and branding just as seriously as we take our organizational mission and social impact and make sure the one is always supporting the other.

Indego Africa just released a nursery collection. What prompted this venture?

Being pregnant! Last year, as I started to think about decorating my daughter’s nursery and plan for her arrival, I discovered so many beautiful companies and brands that took design for babies & kids to a level I never knew existed. I fell in love with the whole industry. I got so excited about the idea of surrounding my daughter with handcrafted pieces and of course immediately thought of the amazing women we work with in Rwanda. The prints in Rwanda are extremely unique and beautiful and everything is truly created with love and a gentle touch. The nursery collection story and product fits right into our brand and the women really enjoy making the pieces! Most of our artisan partners are mamas themselves – with motherhood being the drive behind their determination to work so hard to provide for their families – and it has been really fun to get their advice and thoughts on the line. It was a seamless venture and one we are really excited to show our customers. Our tagline is “By Mamas, For Mamas, For the Babes.” How fun is that?

More about Deirdre:

My go-to outfit consists of: jeans, sneakers and a henley. In my make-up bag you’ll find: cherry chapstick and bobby pins. Since becoming a mom: I have more patience. I could eat: tacos everyday. On my playlist you’ll find: Country music My daydreams are: about saturday morning pancake making with my family. The quirkiest thing I do: is take the cheese off my pizza.

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The Lovely Mama Makers of Umutima Cooperative

#forthebabes, #impact, #artisans, #indegodiaries

The lovely ladies of Umutima {which means “heart” in Kinyarwanda} have played a big role in our brand new collection for little ones by beautifully hand-sewing many of the pattern-happy items on our nursery line – everything from rompers to playmats to turbans & more!

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These talented women – most of whom are also mamas – inspire us everyday with their beautiful artistry, determination, and dreams for the future. We chatted with Umutima’s advisor, Monica Tabet-Gugolz, and a few of the ladies themselves to find out more about this wonderful cooperative and to hear what they had to say about our nursery collection. Read on to find out! 

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Originally from Switzerland, Monica moved to Rwanda in 2013 looking to become involved with a grassroots women’s organization. She began volunteering with the Nyamirambo Women's Center – an institution which helps women continue their education and gain better employment opportunities – but soon realized that the Center was too dependent on outside funding and lacked a means to sustain itself. To address this issue, Monica began teaching some of the women how to apply hand-stitches to African wax print fabric. Slowly but surely this dedicated bunch learned how to sew everything from home décor to children’s clothing, with an emphasis on quality and detail. 

Today there are nearly 30 women involved in the project and they have organized themselves into a well-run cooperative known for its beautiful craftsmanship. Here’s what Monica had to say about working with Umutima on our nursery collection: 

We have loved working with Umutima to create beautiful products for our nursery line - what are your thoughts on the collection? 

The collection is so beautiful and we feel that Indego Africa reflects Umutima's spirit perfectly. To see our products in the nursery collection validates all the hard work we have put into creating Umutima and gives us hope for our future. I still cannot believe this is happening!

As a mother yourself, what product from our nursery collection would you most like to give to your little one(s)? 

For me the baby blanket/playmat is the item I love the most. It is Umutima's very first product and I remember how much effort it took to get the final product right and to teach the women to stitch them. 

What is the process like working with artisans to create a product by hand from start to finish?

At the moment I am in charge of design and new ideas. I then introduce the new idea to the women and we work on making the sample. Sometimes this involves looking for external artisans (for example for basketry) and this can take time. Once we are happy with the sample, the women working with me on it will teach the other ladies. 

It takes a lot of patience and understanding, because the products that we make are "luxury" items in Rwanda. They are not products that are necessary to daily life here, so it is sometimes difficult for the artisans to understand why we cannot accept products that are not finished correctly. I put a lot of time and effort into quality control and making sure the details are finished correctly, but they now know that if our clients come back it is because of our attention to detail and so they accept the fact that I can be demanding. 

There is one story that I will always remember. One of our tailors, Francine, when she started working for us found it really difficult to sew straight. The very first products we gave her were our aprons, which have a pocket in the front. No matter how much she tried, the pockets were never straight and each apron had to be done twice or even thrice. But Francine persevered and when she was finally able to make an apron that was perfect the first time, we both ended up with tears of happiness. Today Francine is one of the tailors that made the baby rompers for Indego Africa!

What inspires you about the women you work with? 

The thing that inspires me the most about the women I work with is the fact that no matter what they have gone through in their lives they still have the strength and the passion to learn new things and work hard to earn a living. I respect the pride they put into their work and the fact that from the start they took ownership over Umutima. 

We also interviewed three of Umutima’s talented mama makers to hear their thoughts on the nursery collection and what it means to be a working mom.

Francine – 8 Children 

Which product from the nursery collection do you like the most? 

My favorite product is Umutima's romper, because when I was asked to be one of the tailors to make the rompers for Indego Africa it meant a lot to me. When I first joined Umutima I struggled a lot with the finishing details of the products I was asked to sew. I always had to redo them because there was always something not straight or uneven. But I really worked hard to improve myself and slowly I saw the improvement. To be making the rompers means that I am now considered one of the top tailors of Umutima and this makes me proud.

What do you enjoy about coming into work everyday? 

Joining Umutima has changed my life forever. I learn so much and I do it with other women, so I do not feel alone. I can now contribute to the finances of my family and this is a huge step for me. 

What are your dreams for your children's futures?

I want my children to be able to have an education and to be able to one day earn a living. 

What does it mean to be a "working mom"?

It is important because I can contribute to my family's needs. I can help pay school fees and medical bills.

Houssina – 3 children

Which product from your nursery collection do you like the most? 

My favorite product is Umutima's romper, because I worked with Monica to develop the first sample for this product and in our catalogue we call it the "Houssina jumpsuit". To see the picture in Indego Africa's catalogue made me happy. 

What do you enjoy about coming into work everyday? 

I am passionate about being a tailor and each day I learn something new with Umutima. I like being part of a team and not working by myself. I know that I can count on my Umutima friends if I need help.

What are your dreams for your children's futures?

I want to be able to provide my children with a good education so that they can have a better future.

What does it mean to be a "working mom"?

I feel proud being an Umutima member. I used to work part time, but now it is a big difference bringing home my monthly salary. With money gained at Umutima I can do a lot of things. I look after my children, I pay school fees, I can pay for rent. I feel independent and proud contributing without asking for help.     

Mayimuna – 7 children

Which product from your nursery collection do you like the most? 

My favorite product is Umutima's playmat/baby blanket. I was one of the first Umutima's ladies and the baby blanket was our very first product. I remember how hard it was to make the stitched straight and regular. I am now considered one of the best hand-stitchers in our group and I can even make bedspreads. I never imagined that something I make with my hands would reach the other side of the world.

What do you enjoy about coming into work everyday? 

I have found great joy being a member of the Umutima. It is a place where I am happy and have found a social community which gives me great support. I earn an income and find peace in knowing that my children will not go hungry.     

What are your dreams for your children's futures?

My children are already grown, but I hope that they can always have enough to live and to always be healthy.

What does it mean to be a "working mom"?

I have a job that I like and I don't have to wait for my husband to do everything for me. Working gives me independence and pride. 

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What an amazing group of ladies! We are proud to be their partners and are thankful to Monica and the rest of the artisans of Umutima for welcoming us into their world! Shop the nursery products – hand-stitched and made with love - by the mama makers of Umutima!

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Introducing Our Newest Collection #ForTheBabes

#indegodiaries, #new, #forthebabes

Once upon a time in the land of Indego, we made a little something #forthebabes...

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We wanted our nursery collection to show a playful side of Indego Africa. We are big fans of the unexpected pop of color and the added touch of whimsy, so nursery decor was a natural fit for our bright baskets, embroidered fantastical art, and lively stuffed animals. Our rompers, sunsuits and bloomers in their statement prints are perfect for pattern-happy folks (like us!) to put on soft baby arms and chubby little leggies. 

We also wanted to highlight the beauty of baby-hood with delicate details - hand-embroidered pillows for sleepy mamas, top-stitched print playmats for days of effortless fun and cuddles, handcrafted dreamcatchers to catch baby's first wishes, and iconic liberty print ragdolls to stay with your little one forever. 

This collection celebrates color, creativity and, of course, the mama makers who put care into every product they make. All of our products are true labors of love for the artisans we work with, and what parent doesn't want a touch of made-with-sweetness for their little one?

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