We're raising funds to build a women-owned arts cooperative in my village (Bogue, Mauritania) where Fulani artisans will produce beautiful hand-dyed, hand-loomed textiles using traditional methods, organic materials and plant-based dyes.
We believe the future is handmade, and want to encourage and share an artistic process that is at risk of being lost forever by creating new, sustainable markets for these textiles. Our family-owned design company Petel will purchase the cooperative’s textiles and produce unique, high-quality accessories, the proceeds from which will be re-invested in the cooperative and additionally used to fund tuition for children in Bogue.
Purchase one of our unique incentives, share it with friends, or make a larger donation if you believe, like we do, in the importance of this project. There are few nomadic societies that have been thrust into the 21st century as quickly as the Fulani, who live in 13 different African countries, making it a challenge to preserve the tribe's rich cultural heritage and history.
Fulani artistic practices are renowned throughout Africa, but with modern technologies, cheap fashion and Western influence, many Fulani have little incentive to continue their traditional, time-intensive practices of dyeing and weaving textiles by hand.
We invite you to join us on our journey of preserving this important artistic and cultural heritage of West Africa. Photographer Claire Harlan is working with us to document this centuries-old tradition as well as the opening of this cooperative in August 2015, and we are offering some of her images along with some of our products as incentives for your support.
Our story began when Ibrahima met Julie and Claire. Peace Corps volunteers who arrived to Mauritania in 2000. Julie and Ibrahima have now been married for 13 years and are raising two daughters in San Francisco while working on Petel as a passion project dedicated to the Fulani people and their traditional artistic practices. Claire is now a well-established photographer, who attended Art Center College of Design and is working in LA on projects that document and preserve cultures, landscapes and heritages.
Our team of three has been funding and collaborating with Mauritanians since our Peace Corps experience, using our personal artistic skills to celebrate and preserve the cultural heritage of many Mauritanians and bring increased attention to this vibrant, little-known corner of the world.
To date, with Petel proceeds, we have sent 12 Mauritanian children to school (from grade school through college completion). With your help, we’ll open a women’s cooperative specializing in indigo dyeing and further our goal of sustaining this traditional craft while simultaneously building a sustainable infrastructure for future generations. We'll continue to create beautiful, high-quality accessories using the materials made by these women, and photograph the process of opening this cooperative in August, 2015.
We have been honored to receive press through many esteemed publications, and sell our wares in some of the finest museum stores and boutiques in San Francisco and beyond.
HOW YOU CAN HELPYour support of our KickStarter campaign directly funds implementation of this women-owned cooperative, which will encourage and preserve and celebrate Fulani traditional techniques and skills while creating jobs and a sustainable market for the cooperative’s products. Profits from the sale of the textiles and the sale of Petel’s accessories will be reinvested in the cooperative, ensuring it becomes a self-sustaining community business. Follow along our journey on social media and we will keep you updated!
By backing our campaign, you can carry our products with pride, knowing you support African cultural heritage and the arts as well as the growth of our small businesses in the US. You'll also be the first to carry some of our newest colorways and designs!
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing venture. Your generous pledge only works when we meet our full funding goal. Once you pledge, please consider spreading the word to your friends and family. We’re all in this together, and we believe the future is handmade!
MANY THANKS TO:
Weavers: Aliou, co-op of Raki
Petel Inspiration: Aliou Baba Wagne, Abou Wagne, Aissata Coumba Tall
Editor: Stacy Johnson
Video: M.E. Francis courtesy of YouTube
Sewers: Kyoko, Aivey
Past Present Future Petel Customers and Fans: THANK YOU! We couldn’t achieve what we’ve achieved thus far without you.
Risks and challenges
If our Kickstarter is successful there aren't many obstacles left. The photographs are ready to print, and new ones will be taken on our next trip to Mauritania in August 2015. Textiles are currently being produced in Mauritania, albeit at a rapidly diminishing rate. We are confident that we have enough stock in sight to fulfill our incentive orders. If the project is significantly more successful than we expect, shipping times might be delayed based due to the demand. We will keep you posted if any such delays should occur.
Travel to remote areas of West Africa has its challenges and hurdles, including visas, restrictions, and typical travel perils such as sickness, transportation snafus are to be expected. We have already purchased our airline tickets, and therefore this campaign is not funding our travel, but rather the capital costs of the cooperative as well as costs associated with photographing the project.
Our materials are handwoven and/or hand-dyed using traditional, plant-based materials, such as the acacia tree root used in indigo dyes. We recommend hand washing in cool water to maintain and preserve your Petel designs.
All photographs are archival pigment prints, and photographed using a medium and large format film cameras.
We expect to open the cooperative in August of 2015 and deliver our project's incentives by early November 2015. If any products are delayed due to international shipping or unforeseen issues, we will update you in a timely manner.
- (31 days)