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July 16, 2017


Leslie's Travel Notes from Visiting the ATAG in Ghana

Swahili Modern Blog and News

The ATAG ( Aid to Artisans Ghana) community has been responsible for a large part of Swahili’s business for the past 18 years. It was the center and heart of the artisan sector. The computer design lab, administrative offices, showroom, and shop were all a part of the compound that exploded in a freak accident late last year. I was hesitant to return but did so yesterday. Since Bridget’s death the organization has struggled to find a leader and the funds to replace the building. They rented a small office nearby to accommodate buyers and producers until a solution was found.

Leslie in Ghana

Godwin was Bridget’s assistant and has persevered since the accident. His arms and hands are completely scarred from the injuries he sustained. All the ATAG staff is determined to continue. Godwin had set up a small meeting on Tuesday morning. He and Elaine wanted me to meet with a handful of new producers. I arrived before Godwin and found a few producers waiting outside the burnt out building.

Artisans in Ghana

They didn’t have the key to the makeshift office nearby. We decided to enter the burnt out buildings and search for usable tables. We dragged the few remaining tables/desks outside. Another person found a cloth to wipe them off. I was digging around the shop and found a few pieces of unscathed cloth. We used these to cover the tables. In 15 minutes the group had set up a temporary exhibit outside of the destroyed buildings. It was a moving experience. They weren’t deterred by the disaster and understood the importance of moving forward without Bridget and their once so inspiring center.

Travel to Ghana for Fair Trade Imports

There is no measurement for how many buyers and producers met at the center, nor creative minds influenced, or lives impacted, or how many long term relationships that started there. The day turned out to be completely positive, a tribute to Bridget and all she had achieved for the handmade sector over the years.

Note that in the USA any destroyed buildings would be off limits. There were no "keep out" tapes present. We walked right in ( in flip flops ) amongst the glass and charred wood rubble, dangling wood, to see what remained. I look back and wonder what I was thinking?

June 12, 2017


Joining Forces with The Leakey Collection

Swahili Modern Blog and News

We are pleased to announce that, starting in July 2017, we will be selling The Leakey Collection products on Swahili Modern. We have been closely acquainted with the Leakeys for years and will be exclusively distributing their famous, fair trade product line in North America as the Leakeys pursue other goals, including expansion of their product designs and organic farming in Kenya. Wholesale distribution will take place on our wholesale website.

Leakey Collection Jewelry

The Leakey Collection has focused on zulugrass bracelets and jewelry in Kenya since 2002. Their iconic grass beads are dyed with low-impact dyes and strung on durable elastic. The sale of their products contributes to wonderful work in East Africa, including creating employment for thousands of women, promoting health and hygiene, bringing clean water into homes, and mentoring young girls through school. 

 Leakey Collection from Kenay

March 15, 2017


Stocking Up on Ostrich Plant Holders

Swahili Modern Blog and News

We began carrying small plant holders earlier this year and have not been able to keep up with demand! This week we are in Kenya picking up a new shipment of these beautiful birds.

Ostrich Plant HoldersAfrican Metal OstrichesAfrican Metal Ostrich Plant Holder Sculptures

February 21, 2017

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2017 › Fair Trade ›

The Use (and Misuse) of the Term "Fair Trade"

Swahili Modern Blog and News

The FTF published an excellent article about the term "fair trade." Please check it out at:

Fair Trade

In the past few months, the term "fair trade" has been grossly misused by politicians for their own gains. The misuse of this term, which fair trade organizations have been long dedicated to defining, is deeply concerning to the global handmade community.

What is fair trade? According to the FTF, "fair trade is an approach to business and to development based on dialogue, transparency, and respect that seeks to create greater equity in the international trading system." Fair trade supports farmers and craftspeople in developing countries who are socially and economically marginalized. These producers often face steep hurdles in finding markets and customers for their goods." 

Swahili Modern is proud to be a fair trade company and part of the Fair Trade Federation. We support the FTF's message of strength and unity during this time of marginalization and political upset.


January 31, 2017


2017 › Baskets ›

Featured on DecorPad

Swahili Modern Blog and News

We love Alyssa Rosenheck's display of our White African Knitting Basket on DecorPad, especially the color palette and use of baskets within furniture.


These versatile, solid-white baskets just arrived in a container from Senegal and are available for purchase. They do sell out quickly!

January 12, 2017


Mali ›

Spotted! Malian Jewelry in Pop Culture

Swahili Modern Blog and News

We were delighted to see large fulani earrings on actress Tiffany Haddish in the movie Keanu

African Fulani Earrings from Mali

This gorgeous style of earring has made a comeback in recent years and has consistently been one of our best sellers.

The earrings have a rich tradition in Mali where they were traditionally worn by women as a display of wealth. Today, the earrings retain the same chunky, rustic design and are hung on hand-formed earwire.

We have recently worked with some fantastic jewelry designers in Mali to produce the earrings in different materials and designs, such as these new Sterling Silver Twirl Earrings.   

African Mali Fulani Earrings

November 13, 2016


2016 › Senegal ›

Boat Ride In Senegal

We are traveling throughout Senegal this week and wanted to share some pics of our suppliers there. 


This is Fatima who is recently married to Max (below). Max is our main manager for our basket ladies. We have been working with Max for years and have a great relationship.

 Travel Senegal

More pics to come soon!

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