On the 7th of December, our team brings a curated collection of 55 merchants and makers to Mary Ward House in central London. Our exhibitors sell a range of rare vintage fabrics, covetable haberdashery and skilfully handmade textile treasures. The fair offers the perfect opportunity to meet makers, catch up with old friends, and pick up that special something in preparation for the festive season.
What do you do?
We design and source a sustainable edit showcasing the best of East African artisanry. We work with the unusual, local and indigenous materials in our region and find skilled makers to craft our designs. We work with materials such as hand spun and woven Ethiopian cotton and eri silk, Tanzanian ugwafu grasses, African blackwood, mninga wood, Kenyan wool and African cotton. Sustainability and ethical production lies at the forefront of what we do and as such our collection also includes zero waste products like our re-purposed Blantyre Jars.
Why do you do what you do?
We were motivated by a few things - a lack of representation for East African design in the UK, and a decline in tourism in Kenya (after the terrorist attack in Nairobi), leading many artisans to struggle to sustain their trade. We also wanted to reconnect with our heritage (Tanzania and Kenya) by exploring the array of trades and skill sets.
What is your favourite part of what you do?
We love meeting our artisans and hearing their stories. It allows us to connect with them and better understand how our work with them affects their immediate quality of life and aspirations. We also love how basic but efficient our set up can sometimes be. We work with some of our artisans by WhatsApp, sending them pictures, feedback on samples and notes. We can also pay some of our artisans by mobile phone if they don’t have bank accounts – using things like MPESA allows people who are quite remote from cities to work and be paid without the need for a bank intermediary.
To visit QÄSA QÄSA and more than 50 other makers, get tickets to the Winter Fair here.