It has been yet another month since my last post, but I am still here. I have just been a tad busy lately with my various projects that I cannot seem to get away from. For now though, I thought I would share a little bit on one of the projects I have been working on which, in my humble opinion, has been a great success.
If you have read through my “about” page, you would have picked up that “we” do a bit of work in the ethical fashion, or ethical business industry. I say “we”, because it is never about me, it is about the wonderfully creative women (and men) who work tirelessly to produce some of the most fabulous items to enter through the doors of some of London’s luxury retailers. Oh and don’t worry if you do not know about this one yet, you will soon enough because this Notting Hill based gem is one to watch, right next to that famous “blue door“.
I am talking about Danaqa World Chic, which within a few months of opening its doors, has quickly established itself as “that shop with the great leather bags” in Notthing Hill, and believe me, you will be pleasantly surprised by what they have to offer. What I love most about Danaqa is their dedication to working mostly with women led businesses in developing countries across Asia and Africa. Their latest additions (part of the project that has kept me busy) are from two wonderful ladies based in Zimbabwe who have designed specifically for the Danaqa brand; a jeweller, whose passion and vision is to create wearable art, and a leather handbag designer whose creations are mostly inspired by traditional art, culture and materials that are locally available.
The first artist is actually a dear friend of mine that I met 8 years ago in Melbourne, Australia. Mona Nduku established Taona by Mona Ceramic Jewellery in 2010. A graduate from the Gemmological Institute of America with a Diploma in Jewellery Manufacturing Arts, Mona is absolutely passionate about using locally sourced products to produce world class creations that she hopes one day will change people’s lives by creating jobs in designing, manufacturing and marketing in her beloved Zimbabwe.
And her pieces are very unique as she has used dainty ceramic beads instead of semi precious stones which gives her the freedom to design in all shapes, colours and sizes. She sent me photos throughout her production process.
On changing peoples lives and job creation Mona says,
I believe that one of the ways I can do that is by teaching the skills that I have learnt over the past 16 years in both manufacturing and retail of jewellery. All the products that we use are found locally and all our products are handmade giving the products more durability and quality.
Mona has created some wearable art with meaning, even with the name of her business, she adds,
TAONA means “ENLIGHTENED”. I believe that people with skills they are passionate about and have made a living from have been given those gifts to enlighten and change the community around them.
Her introductory range is available now at Danaqa, but you will need to hurry as there are only 12 pieces left for grabs.
The next designer launching at Danaqa is Betty Attfield, founder director of Bet M. Alem luxury leather bags. Danaqa said this about Betty when her Bet M. Alem creations for Danaqa came in,
Bet M. Alem loves mixing classic, sophisticated design with the personality that Africa offers. Mixing traditional African cloths with rich, luxurious leather Bet M. Alem’s bags are as wonderfully contrasting as Zimbabwe, the country where the pieces are made. Bet M. Alem are the creations of a young, African designer, that utilised all of the resources around, whilst providing training, employment and skill in a country that is in desperate need for all of those resources.
Betty started designing Bet M. Alem products in October 2006 and has experience from the Spanish, Vietnamese and Nigerian markets where she lived previously. It is no wonder with all her experience that Betty has designed one of Danaqa’s first logo branded bags.
She is now based in Harare, Zimbabwe
where I continue producing Bet M. Alem products with skilled crafts people who had lost their jobs when big factories closed due to the economic melt down in Zimbabwe. The country’s unemployment rate remains very high at a staggering 70%.
What inspires her designs? Betty says
My products are mostly inspired by traditional art, culture and materials that are locally available.
As you get an intimate look at her designs, and if you have a true eye for the diversity that African design brings, you will find not only Zimbabwean influence, but accents of Ethiopian and East African culture within her designs.
Now I will not tell you again to hurry, Bet M. Alem for Danaqa bags are selling fast and the last I checked (this past Sunday), there were only 9 bags left!