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    “How Do You Affect Change with a Bag?” Interview with Samantha White

    I first met Samantha White in 2014 when we started discussing a partnership between Sapelle and Anansi, the brand which she founded. Samantha describes Anansi as an African-inspired luxury handbags brand for chic woman who yearn for colour and print. The name Anansi originated in Ghana where oral stories of wisdom are part of the extensive oral tradition.   These tales are represented by a clever spider named Anansi, and they spread across the  Caribbean, South America and North America. Much like the Anansi stories, Samantha has drawn inspiration for her handbag line from her varied heritage and travels—born to Jamaican parents, raised in Canada, and now splitting her time between Ghana and the UK, her life is a mixture of the many homes of the African Diaspora. I caught up with Samantha again recently, and  heard about her recent..

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    Diary of a Pop Up Boutique

    9 July: Two Weeks To Go

    craft-central-gets-hitchedHow did we get so close to the launch of our Pop Up Boutique, so quickly? It seems to have crept up on me without me realising it. It’s probably a coping mechanism for someone like me who gets fully consumed by an event like this. If I’d been this concentrated on the Pop Up any earlier, I’d have surely already suffered a coronary by now.

    So here we are, within smelling distance of the Big Week of our Summer calendar, when we get to meet customers, old and new, in the comfort of our own space. Our own space! And a nice space one at that. Being online is absolutely fantastic for reaching women all around the world, but it’s nice to be let out of the dungeon once in a while to get some face-to-face contact time.

    Craft Central, our Pop Up hosts, have recently refurbished their space at St. John’s Square in Clerkenwell and it looks crisp, with white walls, wooden floors and huge windows. Not to mention the ideal London location. My team’s really looking forward to claiming the space and having a change of scene and routine for a few days.

    What do we envision for the Sapellé Pop Up Boutique? A clean, crisp backdrop to set off the varied collection. We want a few natural fittings like wine crates, maybe some palettes. We’ve got one or two statement furniture pieces also that’ll be on sale. Overall, we want to convey a relaxed yet stylish look that reflects our Sapellé brand and the products we sell.

    Caveat: there’s only so much you can do with a one-week slot, but boy are we going to try to make it count!

    Here’s the Pinterest Board where we’ve been pinning looks that have caught our eyes.

    16 July: One Week To Go

    Eeek! Not much time left to get everything sorted, especially as there’s so much other stuff going on in the social and family calendar to distract me for days. Nevertheless, we’re very, very  excited. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to some of our partners and quite glad that some of them will be able to attend our Press and Stylists cocktail evening on the week of the Pop Up. I like to think that I know the brands, but nothing beats hearing from the brands themselves what drives them, and the experiences they’ve had.

    Having attended the Ethical Fashion Forum’s Source Summit last week (more of that fantastic day soon!), I got a much-needed injection of camaraderie and rejuvenation from people in the industry working on the same page in terms of ethics and vision and passion for a better fashion industry. Sometimes you need to verbally reiterate your raison d’etre in order to reinvigorate yourself and remind yourself just how much passion you have in achieving your goals. I will definitely carry this with me over the next week and beyond as we do the final preps for the Pop Up.

    Right, just a few last minute items to order: business cards, environmentally friendly business cards, brochures, drinks and canapés for the Press & Stylists evening. Why do I always leave things until the last minute?

    19 July: 4 Days To Go

    OK, there are about 20 lists flying around, tasks are being allocated and logistics for Day Minus One are being scrutinised to the minutest of detail.

    Our base is in Buckinghamshire, so transportation of people, products and props into Central London has to be executed right. Speaking of props, it’s great to be able to say we’ve opted for the more ecological route wherever we could, stationery (bags, cards, brochures) is from recycled paper, transport is going to use as little waste as possible, and we’re re-using and recycling as many of our fittings and props as possible.

    Of course cost has a big part to play in this: how much should you spend to occupy a space for one week? It’s a fine balance between conveying the personality of  your brand and not breaking the bank in the process. I hope that in hindsight, we’ll be able to justify any costs with the benefit of exposing Sapellé to the public and the guests we’ve invited to our Media & Stylists evening on Thursday.

    We’re woking with a number of our suppliers and will be representing them at the Pop Up, so coordinating stock lists will be the focus over the next couple of days. I’m really excited that we can show off these great talents to a new audience! I know everyone will love their products as much as I do, so I’m crossing my fingers for great footfall and a successful Pop Up.

    22 July: One Day To Go!

    We had to chose the hottest day in seven (yes, seven) years to run around setting up shop. London temperatures reached 33 degrees – that’s tropical! How symbolic. We felt the heat. Our rental van had no air conditioning and we were caught in traffic both legs of our 30-mile journey to the venue. And that’s not to mention the bits in between. Tired and sweaty doesn’t begin to describe our state at the end of the day.

    All that aside, by the end of the day we realised we’d underestimated the work that would be involved in setting up and ended up heading with a few tasks left outstanding but too exhausted to continue.

    What we did make sure to do as soon as we got the keys was dress up some mannequins and put them in the window, leaving the door open as we worked. That definitely drew a healthy level of attention and enquiries throughout the day – future visitors and potential customers.

    Team Sapellé did me proud, and we delivered a space that looks great! Roll on trading.

    A Reminder of Why We’re Here

    We received this heart-warming note and photos from Shanley Knox, Founder & CEO Nakate, a Ugandan social enterprise and of one of the suppliers who took a leap of faith with us, believed in our vision and have been stocking with us from Day 1. Shanley is based in New York, from where she is working to grow the Nakate brand. She sent this from Uganda, Nakate’s production base, where she’s currently visiting:

    “Good afternoon from Uganda!

    Thank you for partnering with me at Nakate as we endeavor to empower talented female artisans in Uganda.  I wanted to share some snapshots from my current time in Uganda.

    Through stockists like yourself, we are currently partnering with ten women that reported that all their kids are in school, their babies healthy, and they enjoy their jobs and feel that they are learning new designs and skills all the time! I included a snapshot of Sapelle’s online shop in a slideshow, and they were so excited to find out that they were all the way in London. To quote my lead artisan, Florence – “I hardly recognize my own work!”

    Screen shot 2013-06-21 at 12.48.58 PM

    Nakate CEO & Founder with a Nakate baby




















    Thanks so much for working with us, I’m excited to continue to create sustainable change alongside you!

    Last night, Florence and I were able to just hang and laugh and talk with her grandchildren that she cares for. She shared her vision for empowering our artisans beyond just creating jewelry – changing their lives holistically and teaching them business and life skills.
    Screen shot 2013-06-21 at 12.51.49 PM
    It has warmed my heart to see her doing just that with them. The women she leads to create our designs all bring their children to her home, where our worksite is based. It is moving for me to see our designers creating beautiful work with their daughters close to them after school, rather than being left alone or forced to do hard work out in the fields.
    Florence has asked me to name our next design the Luganda word for “growth and expansion,” because she knows that’s what we are going to do, together, as business women.
    You have made this perspective possible for her.”
    Screen shot 2013-06-25 at 3.49.43 PM

    It’s amazing messages like this that put the fire in us and remind us that what we’re doing goes beyond finding and selling beautiful original products to our customers around the world.

    It’s also about providing a sustainable livelihood to talented, hard-working people, real progress for them and their children – and dare we say it – prosperity for them and their local communities – all around Africa, a continent that has so much more to give, if given the chance.

    Of course we can’t do it without you our stylish customers, who know a good product when you see it, and who are helping us to make a difference on the fashion scene by shopping Nakate and Sapellé.

    And so we receive and pass on the thanks from Nakate to you!

    To shop the Nakate products below at Sapellé, click here.


    Mahogany Hoop Earrings


    Polished Cowhorn Bracelet


    Recycled Paper Necklace