I thought I would write about the last few months and the process from beginning to end when making a new collection of bags.
Saidi and I decided on the 4 different base colours we would use for this batch, and he went to the market to purchase the cotton fabrics and the bright Tanzanian kanga fabric. Thank goodness for Whatsapp! We are constantly messaging back forth ideas and colour combinations. Saidi send photos of fabrics in the market and we decide which combinations will work best together.
After buying the fabrics, Saidi had to organise a work space for Siwema and Mwajuma. We have not had enough money yet to hire a studio or buy our sewing machines so luckily Saidi has an uncle with an empty room in his home. He offered this room to us free of charge, as a space to set up two sewing machines and for the team to work. We also managed to borrow the sewing machines from the families of Siwema and Mwajuma.
Even our sewing machines have a story. They are 19th century antique, manual pedalled sewing machines. Although they require more work to pedal the machine, it’s a lot safer than relying on a constant supply of electricity to be able to work. They are also extremely heavy so Saidi had to hire a car to transport the sewing machines from one side of the city to the other.
They all camped out in the makeshift studio, sewing, making bags, cooking, laughing and working.
Once they finished 10 beautiful hand made bags, Saidi took them to the post office and sent them to me in London, ready to be quality checked, packaged and distributed.