Launching Shop Awntaa


Having fun on set with my beautiful friend Shannah! 

Oh the journey of being a Side-preneur! Here is a little background on my new baby, Awntaa. It took about two trips (flights aren't cheap) to Bamako to put Awntaa together- creating relationships and partnerships. This isn't easy in Africa! I wanted to work with only the locals-those who work and make a living by being creative and using materials found around them in Mali. Those artists who learn the craft from generations ago (all of the artisans involved have never sat in a classroom) either through their parents, family members, and or mentors. Why? Because those who don't have some sort of school certifications and being artists as their only job, they don't make much. Most make less than $5 a day to feed their families, but they get up everyday and create. 

Genuine leather with wool, handmade by skilled artisans in Mali. 
This is a collaborative effort. I may have been the mastermind behind it,  but it wouldn't have been possible without their creativity and knowledge. I sketch out the designs and they brought my vision to life (we are working on some more really cool stuff-stay tuned!)  

Handmade by local artisans in Mali using Vlisco fabric. 

Genuine lizard skin bag, all handcrafted in Mali by skilled artisans. 

Also, If you've been to Bamako, chances are you've seen many children running up to your car to beg you for money or for food. They are everywhere! Most of the time, the parents are sitting nearby waiting for their children to bring over whatever they were able to get from you. I would always give money, but I know that's not enough and that's not the solution. So, I partnered with Adep-Mali to give 5% of any of my Dina leather collection so we can get the kids off the streets and educate the parents by teaching them skills that would allow them to make a living. 

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