Because Senegal's official language is French, Parisians frequently travel to Dakar to enjoy the colorful culture and music scene. Dakar is a wonderful city to visit, especially if you speak French or Wolof!
Our last trip home routed us through Paris, so we stopped to take in the scenery. At a home goods market, we immediately recognized a version of the Senegalese baskets that we sell.
Though priced similarly as ours, these baskets used less plastic, a looser weave, and larger bundles of grass. All of these techniques result in lower costs and less labor.
Here is a close-up pic of our White Lidded African Basket for comparison:
For a few years now, we've been seeing these loosely woven baskets at markets in Senegal, so it was not surprising to see the baskets on the streets of Paris.
How did seeing the baskets make us feel? A little mixed! We are always in support of African craftspeople selling goods to make a living and we appreciate seeing ingenuity that results in lower costs.
However, we also strongly support the practice of fair trade. Often cheaper goods, like these baskets and like all of the cheap goods that we consume, are made by less experienced artisans who are not paid adequately.
We also hope that these baskets do not come to represent the modern artistry of the country as a whole because some amazing products are coming out of Senegal! For years, we have come to know Senegalese artisans as some of the most talented and hard working people on this planet.
Pictured below is Marieme, one of the fair trade artisans we work with in a remote village outside of Dakar. Besides being an expert weaver, Marieme is also a wonderful designer and helps us to bring beautifully crafted, high quality Senegalese baskets to a larger market.