We believe in working with others who share our values. It’s important to us that we are aware of the provenance of the brands and products that we stock. With Mel living in Dakar, and working directly with the creative minds there, we can see with our own eyes what constitutes “fair trade”. Sadly it’s a badge that is often applied remotely and without any awareness of the facts.
We work with Fatou Jobe, of Imadi World, for several reasons. Social impact lies at the heart of everything she does - she employs weavers directly and pays them regular wages, even when times are tough, as they have been recently. Fatou speaks Wolof, the same language as the weavers, which we don’t have. She has developed successful educational programmes for the village communities she supports and she’s passionate about preserving traditional techniques and the environment. We’re so impressed with her love and care of the weavers - and not only the ones working with her - and her embedded connection to their families and communities ... read more
Our products are handmade by skilled artisans using sustainably sourced materials. The techniques they use have been passed down through generations - skills that are becoming rarer in times of mass production, where absolute perfection is possible, but only by using machines. Due to many challenges, including regular shortages of thread and competition from cheaper imported fabric, these skilled weavers abandon their traditional techniques in favour of other professions. Houria and Nawal of Tisserand Dakar have regenerated a passion for traditional West African fabrics, especially the beautiful and complex Pagne-Tisse (which takes around four days to weave 3-5 meters). Their creative textile designs, attention to detail and use of quality materials across their range of homeware and accessories are exceptional and have helped them establish a vibrant brand both locally and internationally. They’re sustaining the livelihoods of many weavers and their families, supporting them in preserving and pass down their skills to the next generation ... read more
The beauty of Africa has touched us in many ways - the vibrancy, the positivity, the energy, the passion. We feel humbled by the talent we’ve seen and the warmth we’ve been shown over the past ten years. Even though some of the Wolof basket names are a little hard to pronounce, we have chosen to retain them, to honour the weavers who have handcrafted them for you. We hope the images we show reflect the beauty and skill of the weavers’ talents.
Repurposed packaging and up-cycling are at the heart of Emmela. Imadi World baskets are interwoven with discarded bassangs (prayer-mats) and Fatou is currently working on a project using discarded water pouches as a weaving material in her baskets, creating a demand for plastic waste that would otherwise litter the villages. This improves lives and livelihoods, by creating environmental awareness alongside the beautiful finished products. We have made our packaging as green as possible, by using recycled tissue paper, paper stickers and tags and reusable ribbons and ties, and by reusing shipping boxes whenever possible. We are a small start-up business, and it’s not always easy to be fully plastic-free, but we’re working hard to get there.
If you have any suggestions or would like to find out more about our products, please drop us a line at info@emmela.co.uk. We would love to hear from you.