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Up Close & Indego

#new, #inspiration, #handmade, #impact

Our Blog #new

Girls Off Fifth

#indegodiaries, #new, #summer, #funwithfriends

Janelle from Girls Off Fifth styled our newest jackets & jewels!

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Originally posted on Girls Off Fifth

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I recently met up with friends from do-gooder brand, Indego Africa, in the Meatpacking District to shoot these oversized blazers that give pattern play a whole new meaning. From women artisans in Rwandato your closet, they’re the perfect piece to make a statement this summer. And the jewelry….so good. Also handmade, each piece is unique in its own way. The star cutout or horn toggle bangles are my absolute fave! All profits fund educational training programs for the women who handcraft these very same products. Empower women while looking chic? Now that’s a no brainer.

Look 1

Indego Africa Oversized Collar Jacket

Elin Kling for Marciano Skirt (similar)

Indego Africa Jewelry

Auxiliary Reese Cross body Bag (on sale now!)

Komono Sunglasses

Vince Camuto Sandals (try these or  these)

Look 2

Indego Africa Oversized Blazer

Zara High Waisted Boyfriend Jeans (similar)

Indego Africa Jewelry

Repetto Booties

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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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In Good Company: J.Crew x Indego Africa

#community, #collaboration, #new, #indegodiaries

This spring, J. Crew is bringing a touch of Rwanda to the American home with the launch of the J. Crew x Indego Africa Spring 2015 collaboration! Featuring bright baskets, vibrant coasters, elegant vases, and more, this hand-woven collection is designed to infuse your life and home with beauty, color, and conscience.

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At Indego Africa, all of our products are handcrafted {with love} by female artisans in Rwanda. Our goal is to take traditional Rwandan artistry and craft and make it beautiful and accessible to modern customers – all while providing sustainable income & life-changing education for the women with whom we partner.

We are thrilled that J. Crew – one of our favorite brands and a beacon of American style – has chosen to feature our products and to share their beauty & rich cultural history with their customers.  

We are even more thrilled {and honored!} to have these items included in J. Crew’s In Good Company collection – a curated selection of  “the coolest goods from the brands {they} love – and love to work with.”

We love everything about J. Crew and how they run their business, making chic and stylish products that are accessible and produced in an ethical, socially responsible way. While we may work in different parts of the world, we share a love of simple, timeless design accented with bright, striking pops of color and pattern. It is in this intersection of elegance and fun, of beauty and whimsy, that we often find our inspiration. As J. Crew likes to say: “the magic is in the mix." 

Above all, we find inspiration in the incredible Rwandan women who handcraft our products. The time, precision, and impeccable artistry they put into all they create is nothing short of amazing, and you can feel the love and care in every stitch.

We are so excited that J. Crew has chosen to celebrate their craft along with us through a collection of bold, bright, and beautiful pieces that evoke the joy and spunk of the women who made them. We hope you’ll celebrate too! Shop Indego Africa for J.Crew here

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The Peace Basket

#artisans, #inspiring, #inspiration, #new, #weaving, #handmade, #community, #peace, #hope

We recently added traditional Rwandan peace baskets to our home decor collection. In addition to being unique and beautiful items, these baskets also have a poignant history that make them all the more special.

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Following the genocide in Rwanda, women were left to pick up the pieces of their shattered country. In order to provide for themselves, their families, and the countless orphans left in the destruction's wake, many banded together to form artisan cooperatives {like the incredible ones we partner with today}.

Women who had been caught on both sides of the country’s violence – both Hutus & Tutsis – came together to make traditional Rwandan baskets, which have since earned the title of “peace baskets.” By working and weaving together, these women were able to overcome their tragic pasts and foster peace, hope, and reconciliation in the face of enmity and despair.

To this day, peace baskets are a powerful symbol in Rwanda. They represent the generosity, compassion, and forgiveness that have helped this country to rise from its ashes towards a brighter future.

Shop Peace Baskets >>>

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Marnani Design for PSxIndegoAfrica

#inspiring, #art, #psxindegoafrica, #new

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:

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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! >>>

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#PSxIndegoAfrica

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

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.

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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!

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Summer of Dreams

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

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

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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 >>>

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The Art of The Stitch

#artisans, #inspiring, #handmade, #art, #new, #sneakpeek

On Thursday, June 19th we’re celebrating the art of the stitch – and you’re invited! As you may have noticed by now, we are obsessed with the beautiful hand-embroidery of IBABA – a cooperative of 28 women artisans in Rutongo, Rwanda.

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The women of this area initially learned the art of embroidery in the 1970s from a group of Belgian nuns that, eager to provide young women with a source of income, established an embroidery training center and workshop there. For years, the workshop flourished, at one point employing over 300 women artisans. However, its success came to an abrupt end in 1994 when the Rwandan genocide ravaged life in the region and forced the cooperative to disband.

In 2012, the Rutongo embroidery workshop opened its doors again and we could not be happier that it did. Under the leadership of two passionate and determined French sisters, Véronique and Pascale, the workshop – now known as IBABA – is back and better than ever.

The ladies of IBABA can hand-embroider anything – and we mean ANYTHING. It all starts with a design – be it a flamingo, flower, or feather – which the artisans lightly sketch on Belgian linen secured in an embroidery hoop. Once the threads are chosen, the long & complex process of tightly stitching them together begins. It requires an immense degree of focus, precision, and skill, and the finished products are often so good, they appear to be screen-printed! 

We are consistently amazed by the intricate and vibrant work from IBABA – so much so that we chose to put a frame on it! On June 19th we will be celebrating the launch of our framed embroidery collection at the William Holman Gallery in NYC (65 Ludlow St) from 6-9 PM. Come revel in the art of the stitch with us – tickets available here

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