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February 03, 2016


Scenes from an Outdoor Market in Senegal

Swahili Modern Blog and News

Bright colors and bird sounds fill this outdoor market near Dakar. The modern style of Senegalese baskets, made using salvaged plastic, is on display.

Small Efforts for a Big Impression

For the last few months, we've been shipping a free gift with every order. We have received great feedback from customers, especially new customers, about this small act. 

Yesterday on Instagram, a customer was nice enough to post some photos of the gift (a banana fiber gift box + shea butter lip balm). We also include a hand-written note with every order. 

Swahili African Modern

Having shipped out over 100 lip balms, we are now out of stock. However, we have a new special free gift in the works! Stay tuned. 

January 14, 2016


2016 › Senegal ›

Smiling Faces in Senegal

We are always amazed at the kindness, joy, and beauty of the people we meet in Senegal. Children are particularly fascinated by our iPad, which we use to sketch out product designs with artisans. 

We hope you enjoy these candid portraits from our most recent trip!

 Senegal Culture

Senegal Artisans and Children of Basket Weavers

Children of Senegalese Basket Weavers

Senegalese Mother and Child


January 06, 2016


"Doing It Right"

Swahili Modern Blog and News

We are delighted to be mentioned in TradeGecko's recent blog post about B2B companies who are "doing it right."

In Swahili's case, they highlighted our wholesale website's emphasis on content, including artisan backstory, Fair Trade principles, and photography. 

The author did point out, however, that we do not have a retail presence. If you are reading this blog, you know that we proudly maintain a retail website, We also have a physical store at the Fifth Street Market in Eugene, OR. We will certainly be updating our wholesale site shortly. Thanks, TradeGecko!

A Stunning Display of Makenge Wedding Baskets

Swahili Modern Blog and News

We were recently introduced to the "global, eclectic style" of apartmentf15, who purchased antique makenge baskets from our good friend My American Nomad.

All we can say is "wow!" We love the rich blues, soft whites, and brown mid-tones, all perfectly punctuated by a shoot of greenery.

These rare African baskets are antiques from Zambia that we were fortunate to acquire from an American collector who is married to a Zambian woman. This dynamic couple traveled to Zambia several times a year and collected hundreds of makenge baskets, which they privately sold before retiring this year.

African Woven Wedding Baskets

Aparartmentf15 has an impressive following on Pinterest and Instagram, where she is admired for her use of natural elements and melange of cultural pieces.

Woven Makenge Wedding Baskets

Zambian wedding baskets are woven using the fibers root of the makenge root. The baskets are handed down to new brides, often from generation to generation. The baskets feature both decorative and functional top stitching that is used to repair holes in the basket.

African Handmade Wedding Basket

Being that talent attracts talent, it's not surprising that apartmentf15 sourced her baskets through My American Nomad, who is an amazing curator of handmade decor as well as skilled stylist and photographer. 

Please be sure to follow apartmentf15 and My American Nomad for design inspiration!

October 29, 2015


A Free Gift for You!

Swahili Modern Blog and News

While supplies last, we are shipping a free shea butter lip balm in a handmade banana leaf gift box with every order!

Fair trade gift

The lip balm is made from what many people consider to be the best shea butter in the world: pure, virgin Sudanese shea butter that has been processed by hand (and never electric machinery). The shea butter is combined with beeswax to have an enriching effect on your lips.

Swahili Modern fair trade gifts

The gift box is a handcrafted in Kenya using banana leaf fiber. Each box is unique and makes a sweet keepsake box or special presentation for future gifts. 

fair trade african gifts imports

We hope you enjoy these small tokens. They are our way of saying "Thanks for shopping with us and supporting fair trade in Africa!"

Monkey Business Can Be a Serious Business!

We recently became acquainted with MonkeyBiz, an amazing cooperative in South Africa that teaches impoverished women how to bead and handle their finances. This group of over 450 craftswomen is headed up by a handful of extremely talented beaders.

Beaded African Art

Their artwork often portrays animals such as zebras/horses and dogs. We are proud to be carrying the pictured products on our site under Home Decor

Beaded African Art

If you love horses or dogs, this is a great opportunity to pick up a gift for yourself while also supporting a great cause in South Africa. 

Beaded African Art

Also, be sure to check out MonkeyBiz in this New York Times article!

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