Since the mid-1990s, Swahili Imports has built a network of artisans across Africa thanks to Leslie Mittelberg, a style visionary, who recognized the beauty of African handcrafts and consumers’ desire for stylish and socially conscious home décor products, gifts, and accessories.
Armed with products from Nairobi’s marketplace, Mittelberg discovered that much African merchandise available to American consumers was derivative in appearance – not culturally relevant nor particularly salable. With a box of sisal kiondos and determination, Mittelberg began seeking retail outlets that would be interested in selling African handcrafts in home décor and gift shops.
After she returned to Kenya, Mittelberg combed through the market to find the makers of the items she had sold, and to form lasting partnerships with them. The focus of these partnerships is on fair and sustainable profit generation, artisan advancement, and modern, earth-friendly product development. More than 1000 retail stores, museums, educational institutions and catalogs worldwide currently sell Swahili Imports products, and a limited selection of Swahili Imports products may be purchased at handeyeshop.org and through Swahili retail stores in Eugene and Portland, Oregon.
Among the groups of artisans represented by Swahili imports are wood carvers from Mozambique. They live in the Miombo Woodlands, a hot, sub-humid, seasonally wet area. The woodcarvers wood items earn a vital income from the sale of their craft. Crafting keeps families together by allowing artisans to work from and within their communities.
, also known as 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE, shoppers can purchase a sophisticated beaded necklace made from mpingo wood—African blackwood found in Northern Mozambique. This simple, but sophisticated necklace can be worn hanging long, or looped together as the occasion or outfit demands. The necklace measures fifty-six inches in length, and comes with seventeen beads and a metal twist fastener. Want something else to go with ensemble? Consider the simplicity of wooden bangles also carved from the exotic mpingo trees. In addition to the necklace and the bangles, a simple mpingo-carved ring box is also available—ideal for keeping rings and other small keepsakes safe.
To purchase the necklace and ringbox visit 12 Small Things by HAND/EYE at http://12smallthings.com/artisan-collection/ebony-bead-necklace.html. For more information about Swahili Imports, please visit http://www.swahili-imports.com.