Sunday, January 20, 2008
The air around me...
While I am diving into future pursuits, I felt like sneaking back into the near past … my heart skips a beat when I see these beauties.
This time last year I was recovering in snowy Germany after a hot December spent in Ghana working with Global Mamas on making my award winning ‘Design 4 Life Ghana’ dresses a FAIRTRADE reality for retailer TOPSHOP. I slept for ten days, tugged inside the blaze of African sun and pure joy of Ghana’s people. I snug away holding onto visual feasts and touches of conversation that will grip me for a life – time – since preserved and cherished as my muse.
Juliana, a Batiker with her workshop outside her home on top of a banana tree plateau and Florence, a Seamstress with her workshop inside an old shipping container by the roadside in Cape Coast, joint forces to produce my coffee bean dresses. We worked long hard days exchanging gifts of knowledge, stories and future dreams while refining methods for printing & assembling dresses. The knowledge exchanged laying strong foundations for potential future projects. I drifted inside a haze of a shared dream taking shapes of reality while listening to gripping life stories and feeling the drenching warmth of hope and beautiful gratitude to Natures gifts. I returned to Europe for a dip in the snow and flew again to Ghana beginning of February’07 to add final touches to production methods. We were exhausted and excited by the work and future prospects. My haze only lifted when dipping forks into spicy African stews and eventually when the dresses arrived at TOPSHOP’s flagship store in OXFORD CIRCUS in April. I stood bewildered in front of the window display, people passing & reading our story. Drifting inside the store about midday the first order of dresses had virtually flown out the store. Our Ghanaian ladies had earned themselves 13times the average wage and most of all more orders!!! Most delightful, Juliana, the Batiker, has now expanded her workshop and doesn’t need to fetch water in buckets anymore. She has been able to lay a water pipe providing fresh water access necessary for the batiking process.
The press had a few things to say about it….see for yourselves:
There has been much talk the past year between myself & other ethically minded movers thinking about how to shape up a fashionable future. With all this future talk I have turned to producing more work with my Batiker.
The air around me remains filled with the colourful life of an African township, the breeze of the ocean & the substantial knowledge of the impact a few pretty dresses can make in ethical ways.