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Up Close & Indego

#new, #inspiration, #handmade, #impact

Our Blog #mothersmonth

The Inspiration Behind #IndegoKids

#indegokids, #mothersmonth, #indegodiaries

Our newest collection of colorful, print-happy, wear-with-ease baby & kids clothes launched on Target.com this month! We checked in with our Creative Director (also a mom!) about the newly launched kids line and why we are so proud of all things #indegokids.

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What excited you about making Indego Africa available to the masses through a retailer like Target?

We are so excited to tell our community about the Indego Africa mission and model and to showcase the work of these amazing artisan women to the world. We want to highlight the successes we’ve seen through our mission of education and economic empowerment; these are stories and experiences that can translate to so many areas of the globe, even right here at home in the U.S. We want people to celebrate the hard work of mamas, and of makers, wherever they are and whatever their backgrounds, and to appreciate the value of education and true social impact.

Tell us more about the prints featured in the collection: What are they called? What inspired  them?

These prints are inspired by some of our favorite African wax print designs. The designs represent many different aspects of African culture: celebrations, rituals, regions and history. Each print is locally sourced and limited-edition.

Can you give us more background on the women artisans who worked on this line? What’s their story?

These talented women—most of whom are also mamas—are all part of an artisan cooperative named Umutima (which means “heart” in Kinyarwanda). Based in Nyamirambo, Kigali, Rwanda, this group of 30 women seamstresses inspires us everyday with their beautiful artistry, their determination to succeed, and their dreams for their own and their families’ futures. We recently asked three of them what motherhood and being a working mom means to them. Here’s what they said: 

Jeanne Hakizimana, 30 years old; two children (1 boy; 1 girl)

"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 (3 boys; 5 girls)

"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 (1 boy; 3 girls)

"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." 

Why infant / toddler clothing?

Well, first, because it's the cutest! We have always been fans of color and prints and all things happy and playful so it was a natural transition for our mainly home décor and women’s accessory brand to expand into infant and toddlers apparel. Also, 91% of the women we work with are mothers or caregivers who, on average, support four children each. Its important to us, and to them, for their children and their families to be a part of our story, and launching kids apparel was a super fun way to do that!

What makes the Indego Africa clothing unique from other infant / toddler’s clothing?

We work with unique prints sourced locally in Africa, and each piece is lovingly handmade by a Rwandan woman artisan. Each style in this collection is designed to travel with its wearer from home to play to party with an effortless, comfortable silhouette while still being stylish and statement-making (with a story of good behind it!). 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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#MamaMoment – Magical Art & Motherhood with Chloe Fleury

#mothersmonth, #mamamoment, #indegodiaries, #funwithfriends

We absolutely love the whimsical, color-inspired paper art & décor pieces of Chloe Fleury—California-based artist, illustrator, prop stylist, and mom of two sweet little girls! Chloe Fleury is known for creating bright, magical worlds out of paper that make for wonderful and inspired nurseries, kids rooms, and more.

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In honor of our Mother’s Month, we chatted with this amazing mama to hear more about her art and design inspiration and find out how these creative processes intersect with her life as a mom. Read on for more & keep your eyes peeled for a special glimpse into Chloe’s magical world…coming soon!

Your paper art and décor pieces are all so colorful and fun! Can you tell us more about your creative process—what inspires you?

I am really inspired by California and the colorful architecture in San Francisco. All those bright colored houses make me so happy!

How did you get started working with paper as an art form? What do you love about this medium?  

I’ve loved working with paper for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I loved doing origami, paper boxes and creating little worlds out of anything I could find including paper and cardboards. In art school I worked on finding my illustration style by mixing paint, cardboard and fabrics while creating little sets for stop motion animations. This is when i moved to San Francisco, 8 years ago that I started to use only paper as medium, I was so inspired by all the beautiful colored houses! Transforming flat paper sheets in three dimensional object is just magical.

This May, we’re holding our very first Mother’s Month, which is a celebration of motherhood & the incredible mamas we work with in Rwanda. You have two  (adorable!) little girls, can you tell us some of your favorite things about  being a mom? 

Rediscovering all the little things in life with them. I love how Lula can be so enthusiast and happy about anything from a leaf or a rock she finds on our weekend adventures in the nature or a pretty dress she sees…She is so curious and eager to learn. I love watching Anouk and Lula together. The smile Lula has on her face when she comes home from school and sees her sister and Anouk’s admiration for her sister, she is the first one to laugh at Lula’s joke and I am sure soon she will follow her everywhere (when she starts crawling). Sisters are the best, it is so fun watching them grow up together.

Your whimsical, animal décor pieces make

for such great additions to baby & kids rooms! How does your own experience  of being a mom (and decorating nurseries!) influence your design process?

I love watching my girls play in their nursery, and I think it’s important for them to have an inspiring space to grow up in. Since childhood I’ve always needed my room to be decorated, making it feel warm and inviting. A space where I could dream, create, play…a little world of my own! My paper animals are a great touch of color and fun into baby & kids rooms. Learning about the animals and their sounds is the first thing we taught Lula. I like to hang the new animals I make in Lula’s room and see her reaction, making sure she recognizes them - I have a looong list of new ones I’d like to make including the koala, giraffe, dinosaur…coming next is the peacock and probably the tiger as it’s Lula’s favorite!

Your little girls look oh-so-cute in our pattern-happy Indego Africa baby & kids clothes! We’d love to hear more about why you support Indego & our collections for little ones.

I am really impressed by the African women’s artisanal skills! The products are beautifully made, and I am really in love with the patterns and colors. Indego Africa is a beautiful and inspiring organization for helping the women with their education programs. 

If you were to buy a gift for a new mom (or yourself!) from Indego Africa, what would you get and why?

I think that would be a pretty basket! I have an addiction for baskets, from natural and simple ones to fringed or pom pom ones with beautiful colors! They are a great addition to any room in a home especially in a nursery for baby shoes, blanket and toys storage! I have a big collection and always want more!

To shop our Indego Africa kids collection, click here

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The Moms of Covanya

#indegodiaries, #community, #mothersmonth, #indegokids

To celebrate the launch of our brand-new baby & kids’ collection (now available on Target.com!) we did an oh-so-cute photoshoot in Rwanda featuring the children of our artisan partners wearing our pattern-happy, perfect-for-summer prints (and playing with lots of balloons and confetti, of course).

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The photoshoot (which you can see in all its smile-inducing cuteness here) took place at Covanya Cooperative in Bugesera, Rwanda—the workplace of 30 amazing artisans and moms who are known for their incredible handwoven products. We were so excited to do this photoshoot in Rwanda and to feature Rwandan kiddies wearing our brand new clothing line, which is 100% sourced, stitched, and finished in Rwanda (with love!)

We chatted with the moms of Covanya to hear their thoughts on the photoshoot, our new Indego Africa baby & kids line, and their experiences more broadly as mothers. And, when we visited, we were happy to find some of their little ones dressed head-to-toe in Indego clothes they had taken home from the shoot! Here’s what the moms of Covanya shared with us: 

“The fabric was so beautiful! At first I thought the clothes came from outside the country. I was to happy to learn that they were from Rwanda!” – Delphine (2 boys) 

“I love being a mom. I love coming home from work and hearing my children scream ‘Mommy’s coming! Mommy’s coming!’ It brings me such joy.” – Alice (1 boy, 1 girl)

“My daughter loves the Indego clothes so much. Whenever I try to take them off she cries because she loves wearing them!” – Joséphine (1 boy, 1 girl)

“The best thing you can give to children is an education—so they can learn, grow, and become independent.” – Jeanne (2 boys, 2 girls)

“Being a mom makes me so happy. Sometimes when I’m having a bad day my kids say: ‘Mom, what happened?’ They make me laugh, and I forget about everything that happened that day.” – Donatha

(4 boys, 1 girl)

“I really appreciate spending time with my kids and enjoying our everyday life together. Nothing makes me happier than being able to feed them and send them to school.” – Claire (2

girls)

To shop our brand-new baby & kids’ collection, head to Target.com

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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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Celebrating Moms

#artisans, #indegodiaries, #mothersmonth

Happy, happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome moms out there! 91% of the women we work with in Rwanda & Ghana are mothers, and we are so proud to support these amazing ladies as they strive to provide for their families and create brighter futures for their children. We are inspired everyday by their strength, their passion, their determination, and most of all their unconditional love for their children.

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In honor of this day (and of our May-long Mothers’ Month we are sharing stories and quotes from the lovely mama-makers of the IBABA cooperative in Rwanda—the talented artisans behind the beautiful hand-embroidered tee shirts and onesies from our Indego Africa x Hatch Collection. We chatted with these ladies to hear more about their stories, their experiences as working moms, and their dreams for their children’s futures. Read on for the ultimate Mother’s Day inspiration!

In the Words of Pelagie Nyiraneza : "I learned how to embroider at a training school run by French nuns before the genocide. Years later, I found out about IBABA from other women who were working there and they encouraged me to join. I discussed it with my husband, and we both thought it was a good idea. At the time, I was a farmer and spent my days looking after the children and doing chores while my husband worked. He was the only income-earner, which meant that he provided us with everything, but it often wasn’t enough. I only made a little bit of money during the harvest or when I sold some milk from my cows. 

After joining IBABA, my life changed a lot.  Because of the income I was bringing in, my husband and I finally had the means to fully provide for our children. We have been able to expand and renovate our house. I opened a bank account for myself and also opened one for each of my children. I deposit money in their accounts whenever I can. Joining IBABA has also enabled me to work alongside other women and share ideas, advice and experiences with them. I left the farming behind and hired someone else to do it instead.” 

In the Words of Dancilla Mukagakwisi: “Before working with IBABA, I was a farmer like  many women, and I stayed at home to do the household chores. I found out three years ago that IBABA was looking for people who knew how to embroider, and I decided to go over there and ask for a job. 

At that time, my life was not going very well. We  lived in an unfinished house and my husband was not working, therefore there were some times when we could not afford school fees for our children or clothes. Even buying school uniforms for all my children was difficult. 

Since joining IBABA and partnering with Indego  Africa, my life has gotten so much better. I can pay the school fees, my children are studying, and my house was completed."

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Mama Moments: A Chat with Ariane Goldman of HATCH!

#mothersmonth, #mamamoment, #collaboration

To celebrate Mother’s Day this year, we teamed up with one of our favorite maternity brands—HATCH—to create a collection of sleek & comfortable tee shirts (and a onesie!) that are hand-embroidered by the lovely artisans of the IBABA cooperative in Rwanda.

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We sat down with superstar mom, entrepreneur, designer & founder of the HATCH collection, Ariane Goldman, to chat about the collaboration and hear her thoughts on motherhood, starting a business & more. Read on for her insights & inspiration!

 

As a company that celebrates motherhood around the world (and that has some mamas on our team!) we love, love, love the chic and timeless maternity clothes that are staples of the HATCH collection. We know you started this brand while you yourself were  pregnant (the ultimate inspiration!)—can you tell us a little bit more about  that process? 

A: As you said, I came up with the idea for HATCH while I was pregnant with my older daughter, Charlie, and was completely underwhelmed by what was out in the market for pregnancy. I just ended up buying bigger sizes of brands I wore, but the clothes didn’t really fit the right way and of course I never wore them again. So many women make the choice to have kids – and it doesn’t mean we stop caring about how we look or how we want to feel. HATCH was born from the instinct to be yourself, style-wise. In other words, to wear clothing that you would wear not pregnant too—clothing that looks and feels good whether you’re pregnant or not.

We are so excited to collaborate with HATCH on a collection of cute & comfortable tees made for moms, by moms in Rwanda. Why were you excited to work with Indego Africa and what do you think makes our collection special?

A: I’ve always tried to support initiatives that help mothers succeed and thrive, and of course even more so since HATCH was founded. Indego Africa is such an extraordinary organization because it empowers women to work on something they love and to hone beautiful artisanal skills. I jumped at the chance to work with such strong artists and their advocates. 

This May, we’re holding our very first Mother’s Month, which is a celebration of motherhood & the incredible mamas we work with in Rwanda. You have two (adorable!) little girls, can you tell us some of your favorite things about being a mom?

A: I don’t even know where to start. They inspire me to be better and smarter. To work faster and harder. And they’re sweet and funny. I love it all.

As a superstar entrepreneur and a mom of two, we imagine your life is pretty busy. What thoughts or insights would you give to our partners in Rwanda who are also starting their own businesses & managing families? 

A: Believe in your vision and other people will too. Don’t get deterred…there are hard days, but you’re building something that’s your own, which is invaluable.

If you were to buy a gift for a new mom (or yourself!) from Indego Africa, what would you get and why? 

A: I try to make the spaces I spend time in feel unique and light and full of little surprises, so the home objects are calling me…those woven banana leaf baskets. I’m obsessed with them. But for a new mom, I might opt for a gift that’s softer and sweeter – one of those gorgeous throws to cuddle up with the new babe. Honestly, everything you make is so beautiful and special. You can’t go wrong.

To shop the Indego Africa x HATCH collection, click here

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Celebrating Mothers—Mavis’ Story

#inspiring, #impact, #artisans, #mothersmonth

This May, we’re holding our very first Mother’s Month—a month-long celebration of motherhood and the incredible mamas we work with in Rwanda and Ghana! To kick it off, we are sharing the inspiring story of Mavis Adongo—a mother, artisan & entrepreneur who is starting her own bolga basket weaving business in Kumasi, Ghana.

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Mavis is a 28-year-old mother of three from Bolgatanga, the birthplace of Ghana’s well-known & well-loved bolga straw baskets. Based in the north-east of the country, Bolgatanga is a rural area with more than 80% of its population living below the poverty line and a 28% adult literacy rate. It is also an area with a rich cultural history of craft-making: specifically, bolga basket-weaving.

Mavis learned how to weave bolga baskets from her older sister and grew up practicing the craft. The two would pick veta vera straw (known locally as kinkahe)—the traditional straw from which bolga baskets are made—and would practice weaving together after school, selling what they could at local markets.

When Mavis grew up, she moved to Kumasi (Ghana’s second largest city and the home base of Indego Africa’s Ghana operations) in the hopes of finding better employment opportunities. She began working with a broadloom weaving group, where she continues to work today. Despite being employed, Mavis earns a meager salary, which is often not enough to provide for herself and her family. 

Mavis, her three children, and her husband live in a small, run-down home without access to running water or consistent electricity. They live in the precariousness of poverty: any day an unexpected event, like a child becoming ill, can turn their world upside down and threaten their very subsistence.

Mavis ardently wants to start her own artisan cooperative dedicated to bolga weaving (which she considers her “true craft”) and to build her own business, generate consistent income, and employ others. She said:

Bolga basket weaving is the first trade I studied growing up. I love to make baskets and watch people admire, purchase and use them. It has always been my passion to start a group focused on making beautiful and colorful bolga baskets for sale.”

We are committed to helping Mavis make her dream a reality! We began partnering with Mavis in October of last year to help her get her business off the ground, providing raw materials to finance her first orders and helping her to secure a workspace and recruit new members. 

There are very few, if any, bolga basket weaving businesses in the Kumasi area, so bringing people together to practice (and learn!) the technique provides a unique opportunity to produce bolga baskets locally, create employment opportunities, and help build interest and value for the craft in the Kumasi region. 

Since we began partnering together, Mavis has found and begun to train six other women to work with her. She is excited about the opportunity to be a leader of her own bolga weaving group and to be able to provide employment opportunities for others. Reflecting on the qualities that make a good leader, Mavis said:

I believe a good leader has the interests of her community at heart and truly cares about the wellbeing of those around her. To be a good leader, extreme patience is required. People come from varying backgrounds and having patience as a leader can help you deal and work effectively with others to grow a business and enable it to thrive.”

Mavis is also excited about the opportunity to be able to better provide for her children. In honor of Mother’s Month and the incredible moms we partner with across Africa, we asked Mavis some questions about her children and her hopes for their future. Here’s what she had to say:

“My children make me really happy and fulfilled. I had very little formal education, however, through my children, I feel I am studying again. They teach me how to pronounce words and how to speak English. My eldest son is determined to excel in school. I love his attitude towards his studies. My daughter is learning how to weave bolga baskets too and this makes me really happy. I want her to learn this trade in addition to whatever she decides to study in school.

Most importantly, I want both my children to have a good education. With education, they can get good jobs, become leaders in society, and prosper in the world.”

We are so excited to partner with Mavis and to support this incredible young woman, mother, artisan, and entrepreneur as she pursues her dreams. We are endlessly inspired by her dedication to her craft, her love for her children, and her commitment to do whatever it takes to create brighter futures for them. 

Mavis is also excited to partner with us and to begin sharing her products with people around the world. As she graciously said: 

“Indego Africa discovered me. They love me and are willing to help me share my skills.”

To see & shop Mavis’ beautiful bolga baskets for yourself, click here

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Mothers’ Month

#mothersmonth

We are so excited to announce our first ever Mothers’ Month—a May-long celebration of the incredible mamas we partner with in Rwanda and Ghana (and in the U.S.!) Here at Indego Africa we are all about supporting mamas every day, so we wanted to do something special to honor these moms—and moms around the world—by dedicating an entire month to sharing their stories.

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We have lots of amazing features, launches, collaborations, and events coming your way this month and can’t wait to share them with you. To give you a sneak peek (and to get you as excited as we are!) we’re including a list of all the fun things to come below. 

This Mothers’ Month, keep your eyes peeled for…

the story of Mavis Adongo—the mom, artisan & entrepreneur who is starting her own bolga basket weaving business in Ghana

a Mother’s Day post featuring beautiful images, stories, and quotes from the inspiring mamas of IBABA cooperative in Rwanda

some very special new items on our ever-expanding baby & kids line (we’re talking some serious cuteness, here…) 

a Sample Sale in NYC on May 10th at 171 Elizabeth St. with one-of-a-kind pieces (at one-of-a-kind prices!)

followed by…a Pop Up Shop from May 11th-16th featuring summer accessories, bright home décor, newly launched apparel, baby & kids items and more (more details here)

a piece on ONE.org about women artisans & the global handmade economy for World Fair Trade Day

Mama Moments interviews with some of our favorite moms here in the U.S. including HATCH founder, Ariane Goldman, and colorful paper artist, Chloe Fleury

the launch of our brand-new Mommy & Me dresses

our first-ever Indego Africa Zine (miniature magazine) giving you an inside look at our programs, partners, and impact in Rwanda & Ghana 

…and more…

Stay tuned by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media (@indego_africa). You won’t want to miss the exciting things to come! 

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