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The Smithsonian is featuring an African Voices exhibit and has created a fun, interactive widget for creating your own bogolanfini, also known as Malian mudcloth.
Click on the top right of the widget to make your own design. Fun!
We were recently delighted to see a piece of our Malian mudcloth transformed into gorgeous pillows by Ginny McDonald, who curates and designs textiles to sell to stores and individual designers.
Ginny immediately recognized the unique quality of this one-of-a-kind mudcloth, which features a mustard dye and hand-painted dots. As a designer in Southern California, Ginny noted that the market is "flooded with Mali cloth, especially all the indigos and graphic designs."
We hope to work with Ginny on future projects and suggest that you view her beautiful creations on her Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/tricot_naturelle/
We were recently delighted to receive pictures from a customer who had purchased an Oil Drum Giraffe Sculpture.
These art collectors from Springfield are experimenting with where to put their new giraffe and have been moving it around the yard.
We think it looks good everywhere! What do you think?
These special sculptures come to us from Kenya, where they are welded together using discarded oil drums and scrap metal. Each sculpture is one-of-a-kind.
World Fair Trade Day is an initiative of WFTO that falls on the second Saturday of May of each year. The day is celebrated worldwide by all fair trade organizations, including the Fair Trade Federation to which Swahili Modern belongs.
Fair trade aims to "create positive change through all of its work: socially, economically, and environmentally. Members work with small farmers and artisans in holistic partnerships built on trust. These relationships go beyond ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions — they empower producers to strengthen their communities and grow their businesses sustainably."
Here's a great video that introduces the fair trade movement and why it matters:
To celebrate this special day, businesses all over the world are hosting events, offering discounts, and running contests to drum up support from the general public.
We are offering 15% off this weekend only, May 13th through May 15th, in honor of Fair Trade Day. Be sure to check out Twitter for some more deals and special events, using the hashtag #FairTradeDay: https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=fairtradeday
We are delighted to have our Toubab Totes featured on The Grommet today! Check out this fantastic video made our behalf.
The Grommet sells "products with a purpose invented by people with stories." They have amazing jewelry, gadgets, home wares, and much more. Be sure to check out their site!
In South Sudan, a collective of women make raw, Grade A, virgin, African shea butter by hand using the nuts of the vitellaria paradoxa nilotica tree, which grows only in East Africa.
The women work under the Lulu Works program, which was founded in 2000 by the French non-government organization MEDIC (Medical Emergency and Development International Committee) in response to rampant hunger and need in conflict torn Sudan.
Over the past decade, Lulu Works and its various arms have created an infrastructure for a sustainable shea butter industry for the women of Southern Sudan, ensuring the rights of Sudanese women as the traditional guardians of Sudan's lulu (shea nut) tree. Processing lulu oil is extremely labor-intensive, but with proper storage, lulu oil can be preserved year round for use. Through the careful organization of nut collection sites and oil processing centers, enough lulu oil can be produced in Southern Sudan to meet local demand and to convert surplus oil into marketable skin care products.
The Guardians of Life
Lulu Works: The Company behind the Lulu Life label
Lulu Life Trust: Profits for the People
My biggest dream is that all my grandchildren get an education, so that they can get a good job and they can then look after me and I can rest in a good home. I thank Lulu Life for helping me get closer to that dream.
The owner of Swahili Modern, Leslie Mittelberg, was recently voted in as a board member of the Fair Trade Federation. We have been a member of the FTF for over 10 years and are delighted to be able to more deeply participate in this wonderful organization.
Leslie's tenure goes into effect on April 26th at the FTF Annual Conference, held this year in Burlington, VT. Please stop by and saw hello if you get the chance!
About Leslie: For more than 20 years, Leslie has dedicated her life to the celebration of African artistry, cooperative design and reliable business practices. Swahili, the company she founded in 1995, has grown to represent harmonious exchange between 11 African nations, a diverse network of artisans and export agents, a talented U.S. support team and thousands of retail establishments that value handmade products and the success of their creators.
Empowering artisans to achieve personal and professional success inspires Leslie's work through Swahili and challenges her team and her to constantly adapt to an evolving marketplace. We tailor our development practices in Africa by the principles of the Fair Trade Federation, and we work tirelessly to keep our product line fresh, relevant and inviting. The inclusion of our products in some of the nation’s most respected retail chains and catalogs supports our belief that well-designed handmade fair trade goods can compete in the marketplace.