We source our fabrics from Kenya (Kikoy wraps, Masai Shuka blankets), Tanzania (Kikoy beach wraps, Maasai Shuka blankets), South Africa (Shweshwe fabric), Malawi (Kanga wrap) and Mali (mud fabric). We demand the highest standard from our suppliers for all of our fabrics. Our products are manufactured by us in Cape Town using the fabrics we source.
We sub-contract highly skilled ex-factory women to turn our fabrics into beautiful products such as picnic blankets , beach bags, sling bags, clutch bags, travel toiletry/cosmetic bags and many more items that make delightfully different gifts for special occasions. These women are able to work from home where they can be with their families. It is our mission to grow our business and help more women support themselves with dignity.
Africa is a vibrant, colourful, exciting continent. We envision a time in the near future when Africans hold themselves up with pride and with an understanding of what they have to offer the world in terms of culture and inventiveness.
Kikoy is simply another name for a sarong or wrap. The basic garment known in English most often as a “sarong”, has analogs in many regions, where it shows variations in style and is known by different names.
Sarongs are often referred to as kikoys in South Africa and East Africa. In South Africa kikoys are generally used as wraps in hot weather, as beach wraps or as decorative throws for the home. The kikoy fabric is also used as cushion covers, sling bags and many other popular items. Our kikoys are sourced from Kenya and Tanzania and come in lengths of approximately 1.5 M with a tassel on the short edges. We supply Kikoy Wraps and Kikoy Beach Towels.
The Maasai are an ethnic group of semi-nomadic people inhabiting southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. One of the traditional forms of clothing chosen by the Maasai is the Shuka.
Shuka is the word for sheets in Maa. A skuka is traditionally wrapped around the body with one shuka over each shoulder and a third shuka on top of them. Shukas are traditionally red with some other colours such as blue. Plaid patterns are common. Maasai clothing varies according to location and age. Young men wear black for months following circumcision. Red is a favourite colour but black, blue, checkered and striped cloth are also worn. Animal skins began to be replaced with commercial cotton as only in the 1960’s.
Our traditional Maasai (Masai) Shuka Blankets are extremely popular.
Who could fail to fall in love with traditional Shweshwe fabrics? Indigo cloth has a long history in South Africa and it is believed that the roots of indigo cloth stretch back to 2400BC to Phoenician and Arab trade. Soon after the arrival of Jan van Riebeek and the establishment of the port at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652, indigo cloth made an appearance. Slaves, Khoi-San and Voortrekker women had garments made of the cloth and, so did soldiers have clothing made of the cloth! Some of the cloth was printed and most of it came from Holland and India. The natural dye used for the indigo was extracted from the Indigofera Tinctoria plant.
It was during the 18th and 19th centuries that European textile manufacturers developed the block and discharge printing style on the indigo cotton fabric. A German chemist, Gustav Deutsch developed synthetic indigo in 1862. “Discharge” printed indigo was manufactured and printed in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 18th century and it is then that the cloth was brought to South Africa. In 1930, Gustav Deutsch emigrated to Lancashire England where he set up a factory to manufacture the cloth. Sales of the print style boomed and eventually four different companies were manufacturing the print style. The fabric has woven its way into the fabric of South Africa and one can find Shweshwe on women and children (and occasionally men, as well as in homes) from all walks of life.
Kangas (khangas or lesos) have been a traditional type of dress for women in the region of the African Great Lakes. The kanga is 1.5 piece of printed cotton fabric and it often has a border along all sides. In the eastern region the border is printed with phrases, traditionally in Kiswahili and in central areas phrases in Lingala and Kiswahili are popular. On a longer border there is often a message in Swahili and sometimes in Comorian or Arabic. Other countries producing kangas write the messages in their own language. The message is called the jiina (‘name”) of the kanga and messages are often riddles or proverbs. Our kangas are sourced from Malawi.
Kangas are colourful garments, similar to kitenge. The fabric is traditionally used as a sarong (or wrap) but they make delightful tablecloths, cushions, curtains or throws. We have even turned them into stunning, lined picnic blankets!
Traditional uses of Chitenjes in Malawi:
- Chitenjes (kitenges) are worn by women at funerals
- Kitenges are used to hide babies when mothers are breastfeeding
- Kitenges are used as a sling to hold babies on mothers backs
- Kitenges are given to young women as gifts
- They are used as a wrap on the beach by Malawian women
- Chitenjes are often used in Malawi as decorative table pieces or hung on walls as batik artwork.