Kisanii is an exciting new London-based event curator promoting creatives, entrepreneurs and artisans from the African Diaspora. The organisation was founded by two fantastically energetic ladies, Laverne Thomas (CEO) and Jada Badu.
Sapelle’s founder Daphne had the pleasure of spending a day with the Kisanii team, discussing their experiences and ambitions. And Daphne answered a few questions for them as well.
Watch the interview here: Here’s a transcript from the interview:
Hello my name is Daphne Kasambala and I’m from Sapelle.
So the name Sapelle is actually the name of a tree: the African mahogany tree which grows in parts of West and Central Africa. And our decision to use the name Sapelle for our brand was based on… we want to the name that was quintessentially African and represented something
green, something beneficial, and something beautiful.
The thing about the Sapelle tree is actually that the wood is used in luxury car dashboards, it’s used in furnishings and it’s used on musical instruments. People love the grain of it. It’s a beautiful wood and it’s got environmental benefits as well as medicinal benefits…so the name Sapelle really represented the ethos behind our brand and we thought it was a perfect fit.
Sapelle is a fashion and lifestyle product retailer based in the UK and what we do is we go around the continent of Africa finding the very best talent… who create beautiful products that are inspired by African design, African heritage and make them into contemporary products that women of all backgrounds around the world can enjoy.
Sapelle has an ethical foundation which means that our…one of our primary aims is to provide fair employment and fair enterprise to craftspeople and artisans and designers around the continent of Africa, and to actually give them a bridge to the world market and the fashion industry particularly, which is a huge platform. And our aim is to actually do this fairly, and to grow enterprise around the continent of Africa.
In terms of our products we’re thrilled because we have a wide range of designs from designers who come from different parts of Africa and who are influenced by different types of cultures and heritage around the continent. So we have designers from at Mali, Ghana, Nigeria in West Africa, Benin as well as Congo, DRC in the center Africa all the way through to Uganda and Kenya and Tanzania in the east and Southern African countries as well.
The beautiful thing about our products is that they are bringing to the limelight things that we haven’t seen before. Heritage textiles that were only confined to the category of ‘costume’ or ‘traditional’ clothing. For instance we’ve got a new brand that we’re introducing in our Autumn/Winter 2014 collection. The brand is called Raffia and they’re using a fabric that’s made out of hand-woven organic cotton that’s sourced locally.
Here’s an example of one of their products. It’s this lovely skirt here. And the skirt is actually made up of strips that are woven on a loom traditionally and then joined together, tailored into a garment that wouldn’t look out of place on the streets of Paris. It’s really beautiful and until now we think that we hadn’t seen this fabric merged with contemporary fashion or design we also have accessories made by some of the best social enterprise around Africa.
We work with a lot of social enterprises that use traditional techniques like beading and make them into jewellery that you can wear in an urban setting. For instance there’s Sidai, a social enterprise that’s based in Tanzania that works with Maasai women who up until now had just been creating very traditional Maasai jewelry that only they could wear. And now we have jewelry that is amazing, beautiful and stunning which women here in London and around the world would also love.
So that’s the story around our products. Our products actually fuse together traditional and heritage skills & design with a modern aesthetic.
The vision for Sapelle is that we want to be a well-known brand around the world as the place to go for people looking for beautiful, high quality products that are inspired by Africa. So we want to evolve with people’s tastes and we want to evolve so that we can be that place that suppliers all over the continent come to, knowing that they’ll be able to reach women around the world. We also want women around the world to know that they can find great products with us that have a touch of the exotic but are also very, very irrelevant to a busy modern lifestyle.
If you want to find our products, you can get them on our two website www.sapelle.com and www.sapelleusa.com We’re also on all the social media so you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Polyvore.