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Our Story

About Swahili Modern

Swahili African Modern has been building relationships with African artisans for over 20 years. Founded by Leslie Mittelberg, an avid traveler with a heart for sustainable development & a head for business, Swahili represents thousands of artisans from one of the world's most diverse & enigmatic continents.

Swahili operates from a small warehouse in the Pacific Northwest, but our network spans the globe. At all times we are developing handcrafted products directly with artisans in Africa, bringing them in by sea container and plane to Oregon and then shipping them around the world to shoppers just like you. We also make it possible for our artisans to sell to large companies like West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Garnet Hill, The Company Store, Disney, The Metropolitan Museum of Art & the Smithsonian.

Working in Africa presents specific challenges, but Swahili thrives on creative problem solving and inspired design. We believe in fair trade: our work in Africa shows it. When we meet artisans, we plan for a long-term relationship that helps dedicated Africans advance professionally & personally. We pay fairly and on time, because artisans work hard to provide for their families. We design products from sustainable or recycled materials & we strive to keep our customers in touch with the talented artisans who create the products they love.

When you buy a Swahili product, you help build strong communities in Africa from the grassroots level. Because we are always developing new products, you never know what great find will hit the site next.

Make a difference. Buy handmade.

You can contact us with questions at

For wholesale inquiries, email us at or visit