Hand-embroidered with heart by our artisan partners at Ibaba Cooperative in Rwanda, these adorable bonnets were inspired by Indego and Briar's mutual appreciation for beautiful, handmade products.
Read our exclusive interview with Rachel below to hear more about the vision behind our collaboration and what meeting the women artisans of Ibaba meant to her and her family.
How did this partnership come about? What got you excited about the project?
Earlier last year, I was contacted by Indego Africa about a possible collaboration opportunity. After learning about Indego's mission and work, I was really compelled to make this partnership happen. I got really excited when I received some work samples and saw the impeccable handiwork of the artisans. I was blown away by the craftsmanship of the embroidery and knew how much customers would not only appreciate the product, but the story and people behind it.
You brought your children and husband with you to Rwanda to meet these artisan. What was that like?
It was an adventure to say the least! As this collaboration began, we were on the heels of coming back from another trip with our kids and had decided that traveling with them was something we wanted to make priority. We loved that this trip would not only expose them to a completely different culture, but also show them how Briar was working globally with other women. Being a blonde, fair skinned family, we certainly turned a lot of heads while we were there! it was like we had been transported to another world; magical and beautiful in its own way. Our kids still talk about Africa every day.
What was the best part of your time in Rwanda?
Two things really stood out! First, it was pretty surreal to meet the women that were embroidering our fabric. It was so impactful to realize that what I had started three years ago out of my home had migrated across the world and was literally in the hands of women in a country that is rebuilding itself.
Also, spending time in the Akagera National Park was such a highlight for our family. It was hands-down the most fun part for the kids. You can;t beat walking along a walkway with monkeys at your fingertips, or seeing hippos playing in water 20 feet from you!
What surprised you about the artisans you met in Rwanda?
We visited several cooperatives, and the overwhelming tone in any conversation was, "Can you please bring us more work?" These women work long hours to support their families, and they truly appreciate having work sent their way! I was so surprised at how smitten they were with our kids. From hugs, to gifts, to picture-taking, their natural mothering tendencies really shined through. It was very sweet.
What's the best piece of advice you have for women entrepreneurs across the world?
Regardless of where you are in the world, having a community of women is essential. For me, it;s being in touch with other like-minded female entrepreneurs. We are so lucky in this day and age that we have social media to connect with other women; inspiration is right at our fingertips. As I've shared with other women starting businesses, it's impossible to do it on your own. Find the right people who can do what you do, but better.
What's next for Briar Handmade x Indego Africa?
I'd love to see us come out with more specialty embroidered bonnets in the future, but in the meantime, we have a brand new product making its debut this summer! We are so excited that a "Briar Basket" will be joining our Artisan collection: a hand-woven bloga (elephant grass) bassinet, perfect for little babes (wearing bonnets!). We are so excited!