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Teaming up with talented artists in Ghana, West Africa to create a line of designer hand bags and shoes using recycled materials.
Teaming up with talented artists in Ghana, West Africa to create a line of designer hand bags and shoes using recycled materials.
80 backers pledged $6,717 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

DARIKA DESIGNS: THE EMPOWERMENT PROJECT project video thumbnail
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$6,717

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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)!  

THE ARTISTS

"MORE FIRE": TAILOR

"More Fire"
"More Fire"
Example of "More Fire's" work
Example of "More Fire's" work
Example of "More Fire's" work
Example of "More Fire's" work

“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

Sahadatu
Sahadatu
Example of Sahadatu's work
Example of Sahadatu's work
Junior, Sahadatu's son
Junior, Sahadatu's son

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.

THE INSPIRATION

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.

THE REWARDS

$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

Designer "Medicine" Bag
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!

Thank you for your support.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    RECYCLED COIN PURSE. Coin purse made from recycled plastic water sachets. In Ghana, the majority of filtered water is sold in .5 liter plastic sachets. Often times these sachets end up littering the ground. This pledge gift puts recycled "waste" to fashionable use!

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    RECYCLED BEADED BRACELET. A multi colored beaded bracelet made from recycled bottles that have been pounded into powder, put in a clay mold, and fired in an a kiln built from the earth. Each bracelet is recycled, hand made, hand painted, and completely unique!

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    RECYCLED WIRE BICYCLE. An entire bicycle made from recycled wire! This charming piece is hand crafted with precision and clever detail by local artisans, and all parts are movable! The individuals who produce these bicycles use the profits to support their families, and to continue their traditional craft work. Approximately 4.5" x 7".

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    RECYCLED TOTE BAG. Hand made tote sewn from patches collected from local tailor and seamstress shops. The patchwork exterior is recycled and different for every bag. The lining of the bag is made with recycled flour sacks. Measures approx. 17.5" x 11" with 28" straps. The bag includes one interior zipper pocket, as well as one exterior zipper pocket. The main interior pocket zips closed to safely keep your belongings. Each bag is colorful and one-of-a-kind!.

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    AUTHENTIC SNAKE SKIN WALLET. These 100% authentic snake skin wallets come from the Upper East Region of Ghana, West Africa. Here in Ghana, snakes are greatly respected and feared. It is a widely accepted belief here that if you play your music too loud, you will attract snakes. Snakes enjoy music so much they will be compelled to come closer to the sound... and to your home!

    Each wallet is a little different, so please anticipate some variation in color and pattern due to the uniqueness in snake skin. Wallets measure approximately 4.5” wide x 3.75” tall. Wallet interior includes one long non-zip bill pocket, one long zipper bill/important papers pocket, two card pockets, and a coin pouch.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    RECYCLED "CHUCK TAYLOR" SHOES. The coolest shoes you will ever own! These shoes are 100% recycled, as we utilize reclaimed Chuck Taylor/Converse shoes found in authentic West African markets in the country of Ghana. You tell us your shoe size and Sahadatu (our shoe-maker extraordinaire) will create your shoe by sewing beautiful, authentic African fabric scraps recycled from local seamstress and tailor shops, on to the shoe. The result: a recycled, completely unique shoe and rockable work of art. All shoes will include Sahadatu's original signature.

    I taught Sahadatu how to make this style of shoe a little over a year ago. Since then, she has perfected her technique and has been receiving orders from people who have seen her one-of-a-kind shoes. The money she makes helps provide for her adoreable 3 year old son, Junior.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    RECYCLED BACKPACK. Large backpack sewn out of patches collected from local seamstress and tailor shops. The pack measures approximately 24” x 15” and is equipped with a large interior pocket that zips closed, a laptop pocket with Velcro closure, two smaller exterior pockets with zippers, and two side water bottle pockets. The back straps are reinforced and adjustable. All backpacks will include "More Fire's" original signature.

    The creator of this bag is nicknamed "More Fire". “More Fire” is incredibly talented and will be working with me to create Darkia Design hand bags, if this project is successful. “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 from the money he earns through the sewing trade.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    DARIKA'S RECYCLED DESIGNER HAND BAG. The end result! You will be able to choose one of five designer hand bags that will be created from this project. As the bags come together I will post sketches and photos to get your feedback and keep you involved in the process. The bags will be customized, hand made from at least 85% recycled materials including fabric, leather, customized brass hardwear, flour sack material, and beads. The bags will be a collaborative effort from several talented artists. All handbags will include "More Fire's" original signature.

    The Ritz Calton in St. Thomas Virgin Islands has shown an interest in carrying this line of hand bags at their new Ambassadors of the Environment Center, once they are complete. This is a great opportunity to get one at an affordable price, as this line may be available exclusively at the Ritz Carlton in the future, and will retail for more than $250.00!

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Funding period

- (37 days)