Pleasantly Surprised

Helping women with jewelry
Danaqa (meaning ‘pleasantly surprised in Amharic) is an inspirational fashion accessories and lifestyle brand based in the UK, showcasing craftsmanship and supporting women-led businesses in developing countries.
 
After 12 years living and working in countries such as Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Namibia and Tanzania, husband and wife, David and Nadia, decided to combine their passion and 20 years combined experience of international development and the traditional handcraft skills and products that they had discovered into a new ethical lifestyle brand.  Launching in 2011 in London’s Notting Hill area, they have grown a loyal customer base of people who appreciate their quality unique handmade products and love to discover the stories they have to tell.
 
David and Nadia met twin sisters Tigist and Haimanot Dantew when living in Addis Ababa and fell in love with their beautiful jewelry and inspiring story.
 
T&H Designs is a small jewelry and bag design business based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia started in 2007 by twin sisters, Tigist and Haimanot. The Gemini Trust, an organization dedicated to helping the families of twins, initially sparked the girls’ interest in making jewelry, and, since then, T&H has grown into a thriving business known for having the highest quality products and as a leader of the Addis Ababa fashion industry. 
 
The twins are interested in growing both their business and community.  Tigist and Haimanot have a special interest in helping disadvantaged women. In the past, the girls have trained women undergoing fistula surgery in jewelry making. More recently, the twins have begun offering jobs to vulnerable young women. Currently, there are two girls working at T&H Designs, and the twins expect to hire more girls in the near future.
 
We are trying to use our skills in design and jewelry making to improve our own lives and the lives of our family and community.
 
Tigist and Haimanot travel around the world in search of new beads that they can combine with traditional Ethiopian metal beads. The twins have travelled to India, South Africa, Ghana, Mexico and Europe in search of beads to incorporate into their designs. This worldly collection has allowed them to create one-of-a-kind designs. Since the business was first established in 2007, the designs have evolved and improved, as the girls have integrated new elements and techniques into their jewelry designs.
 
“The Ethiopian beads that we use are made by farmers who use recycled metal, like bullet casings, to make the beads. They melt the metal and form different types of beads. We then buy the beads from the farmers, and the design process starts to take place in our shop. The inspiration for our designs comes from different places, including traditional Ethiopian jewelry and modern jewellery designs. We also find beads from different parts of the world, including Ghana and India. Our designs largely depend on the materials that we are able to find. At the end of the design process we take extra care to finish the designs properly, so that our pieces last a long time.”
 
For more information visit www.danaqa.com
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