THE PROJECT GOAL
Between late July to mid August I will travel to Ghana West Africa to work with two artists to create a line of designer hand bags and shoes using recycled materials. The line will consist of 5 original hand bag designs and 5 original shoe designs. The hand bags will be created using recycled material such as pieces of traditional fabric collected from local tailor and seamstress shops, recycled flour sacks, recycled glass beads, customized brass hardwear, crocodile leather, and snake skin leather. The shoes will be created using reclaimed shoes from authentic African markets, and recycled pieces of traditional fabric from local tailor and seamstress shops. I will be working closely with two very talented artisans: "More Fire" a tailor; and Sahadatu, a shoe maker, business woman, and mother.
*This is not charity, this is empowerment. The goal is to create a line of recycled hand bags and shoes by educating and training talented artists to use their traditional craft skills to create modern products. Once we have the line of samples we will be able to introduce them to an international market, and generate opportunity for these artists' future (and hopefully many more artists to come)!
"MORE FIRE": TAILOR
“More Fire” grew up in the Northern Region of Ghana. He moved to the capital city at the age of only 12 to see if he could find work. He is now an accomplished tailor and supports his family back home with the money he earns through the sewing trade."More Fire" has an extremely creative mind and the talent to support those creations.
SAHADATU: SHOE MAKER
I taught Sahadatu how to make this style of shoe a little over a year ago. She was looking for a way to make money while her son was in school, but was having a hard time finding a job that would allow her to pick up her son in the afternoons. Sahadatu is business minded and has great attention to detail, so she quickly caught on and improved upon the basics that she learned. She has perfected her technique and has been consistently receiving orders for her one-of-a-kind shoes. The money she makes helps provide for her adorable 3 year old son, Junior.
I moved to Ghana in June 2010, as a Visual arts teacher with the Peace Corps. I lived in a little village and taught at a high school and experienced all the challenges and benefits that come with being a Peace Corps Volunteer. When I completed my service, I moved to the capital city of Accra and opened an art shop in the Centre for National Culture with my business partner and boyfriend. During my time as a shop owner I became very aware of the underappreciated artists in Ghana. There is so much talent, but only a small venue for artists who do not have a way to access the international market. I was introduced to some of the most beautiful, hand made art that I have ever seen. It became clear that I was going to dedicate myself to working with these artists to get them the recognition that they deserve. At this stage I will be working with two very special and talented individuals to create the line of hand made bags and shoes using recycled materials. I am working toward a specific goal to empower these two artists and help them break in to an international market. I am currently living on St John, Virgin Islands. I have already introduced some of these products to shop owners on the island. There is a definite interest on St John, and St. Thomas (specifically the Ritz Carlton, Ambassadors of the Environment Program). The next step is to get the existing products here, and create the new line of recycled hand bags and shoes to provide samples for interested shop owners. If all goes well there is no telling how many individual artists may be empowered in the future!
Art is my passion. As an artist myself, I am familiar with the intensity and vulnerability intertwined with any artistic process. I am also familiar with the under-appreciation that artists often face. This project is about empowering artists who deserve to be recognized by focusing their talent on a specific design project and connecting them with an international market.
$10+ PLEDGE - RECYCLED COIN PURSE
$20+ PLEDGE - RECYCLED MULTI COLOR BEADED BRACELET
$40+ PLEDGE - RECYCLED WIRE BICYCLE
$50+ PLEDGE - AUTHENTIC SNAKE SKIN WALLET
$50+ PLEDGE - RECYCLED TOTE BAG
100+ PLEDGE - RECYCLED "CHUCK TAYLOR" SHOES
$150+ PLEDGE - RECYCLED BACKPACK
$250+ PLEDGE - DARIKA'S RECYCLED DESIGNER HAND BAG
EXAMPLE 1: DESIGNER "MEDICINE" BAG
*I WILL POST MORE PICTURES OF THE NEW LINE OF RECYCLED HAND BAGS AS THEY ARE CREATED!
Risks and challenges
One of the main challenges of working in another country is communication. Often times the difference in languages (non-verbal and verbal) can create confusion. This is one challenge that I foresee, but thankfully I have already established relationships with the artists that I will be working with, so it is just a matter of re-establishing that bond. One huge benefit to not always communicating thoroughly is that sometimes what you have said and what the other person understood morphs into a completely new product, or adds a twist that you never would have thought of... accidental creativity! That's a challenge that I can look forward to.
Another potential challenge is the fact that "Africa time" and "America time" are two very different things. Patience is required when working with people from a different culture who have their own time tables. Also a good reminder that sometimes it's okay to take things a little slower :)
I know the support for these environmentally conscious products exists, so the biggest risk is not trying!
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- (37 days)