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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!

Fair Trade Trends

Like many business owners, we are trying to improve our search ranking in Google for keywords such as "African baskets." Side note: hey Google, if you are reading this, we love you! Please help us rank higher and we'll invite you to all of our office parties and give you free stuff!

Joking aside, our two-year-old retail website is trying to improve our ranking for basic keywords so customers can find us. After all, our African baskets are the best in the biz and we are confident that people will buy them if they can find them. 

While doing some keyword research today, we stumbled upon an interesting find in Google Trends: people are searching for "fair trade" less every year. Here's the link.

Fair trade

What!?! How could this be? Today's consumers are becoming rightfully concerned with the origins of their products, as widely demonstrated with organic foods and GMOs. Being in the fair trade business, we are confident that people want products that are eco-friendly, non-factory, and made by people who are paid fairly. 

So, we are left to wonder: has the term "fair trade" become clouded with "direct trade," "green," or "sustainable?" 

What do you think?

Snapshot in Senegal

Here we are in Senegal, navigating a market with Mariama (on the right) who is one of our best weavers and an absolute joy of a person. 

Senegal Baskets

Senegal is a fascinating, vibrant country. What's lacking in its pale, arid landscape is made up for with colorful clothing and decor, including of course baskets! 

We are delighted to work with Senegalese craftswomen and to help them lead fulfilling careers thanks to fair trade pay and principles. We feel that their happiness comes through in the products and helps to "brighten" your home in a meaningful way. 

Basket Weaving in Senegal

Women and men (and one very cute baby!) sit in an information circle to weave Swahili Modern's African baskets for late 2015. Native birds can be heard chrirping in the background. 

Container Day!

We just received a container from Senegal that is packed full of new African baskets. Everyone in the office and warehouse comes together to get these babies unloaded in quick time: our record is 1.5 hours. 

One of the new baskets we received is a Leather Lidded Senegal Basekt. We hope you like it as much as we do!



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