Investing in the Kenyan Artisan Community
The Jiamini Group promotes hope through education and collaboration with female artisans, whose work is a result of generational skill and technique. This partnership gives access to the global market to impoverished women in both the city of Nairobi and outlying villages, creating income and opportunity. Yvonne Kaleche, Managing Director and established abstract artist, agreed to share with us what buyers can expect to see, the techniques behind the fashion accessories and home décor, and what the future has in store for them and their mission:
What products can buyers expect to see at the NY NOW and Artisan Resource Exhibition?
Taking inspiration from the bakuba cloth, the masaai beadwork and natural elements found locally, we've come up with a home decor collection for 2019 to include beaded wooden trays, printed cushion covers and crotchet polythene planters/bins. In addition to this, we shall showcase our signature travel companion in-flight bags crafted from a transparent PVC body and embellished with a beaded medallion.
Can you please share some of the process behind these products?
Our production process from concept to sketch to sample, seeks to maintain its traditional African craftsmanship and heritage as a base, using beads as the key ingredient intricately embellishing each piece by hand with a distinctive pattern and color combination inspired by the global, local and in house trends. We adopt techniques such as weaving, screen printing, crotchet and carving in the creation of our 2019 home decor collection.
What kind of materials, tools, and machinery are used?
The most valuable tool we have as a brand are the hands as most of the pieces if not all are made by hand with very little assistance from machines such as the sewing, sanding and cutting machine which guide in streamlining uniformity across the production line. Majority of our materials are sourced from local factories that comply with the ethical production and environmental standards set and whose quality meet not just ours, but internationally as well, enabling us to be competitive within the market. Providing the best materials for our products, from the beads to the wood and the cotton is of utmost importance to us.
What do you envision for your brand's future?
Our vision is to not only grow into an internationally recognizable brand with global distribution, but to build industries within the rural settings, therefore creating sustainability for women and youth through employment. We are about 44 tribes in Kenya, each with a traditional skill passed on from generation to generation. Our grand vision is to keep these skills alive, with some influence from the modern world forming fashion production hubs within the communities where an array of designs, techniques and craftsmanship can be shared with the world.
What kind of long-term changes do you hope your project has on both the local and global community?
Sustainability for women and youth within the rural setting is key for us as a company and the continuation of the traditional craftsmanship skill is of important as well. Continually sensitizing and encouraging buyers and customers to source and shop ethically with a deeper appreciation and understanding of where, by whom, and how their products are made will forever remain our priority because for us, luxury is a human story.
Check out Kenyan artistry and exceptionalism at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource February 3-6 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
For more information and to buy products, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/KatchyKollection