Today’s interview is a special one! I’m so glad I Deirdre emailed me a few months ago to introduce me to Indego Africa, the amazing brand she’s the Creative Director of. Indego Africa works to empower women (many of which are mothers) in Ghana and Rwanda by employing them to create the beautiful products Deirdre designs. They also provide educational and training programs for these women. I love the mission of Indego Africa and I also love the hand-crafted products – everything is something I’d like to buy for myself or a friend – beautiful baskets, beautiful items for kids and I really want this new EMPOWERED sweatshirt!
I’m the Creative Director at Indego Africa. I design all of our products – which are handmade in Rwanda and Ghana – and oversee all branding, marketing, sales and production. I joined Indego in the summer of 2010 – right after I graduated from law school whereI focused my studies, summers and work experiences on international human rights, with a specific dedication to women and refugee rights in Africa. After graduating, Indego’s mission spoke to my experience and interest both in women’s and human rights as well my personal life-long love of design. The transition from recent law school grad to creative director of this amazing company, while unexpected, was actually a fairly seamless one (note: don’t underestimate the power of learning on the job) and I couldn’t imagine my career being any different. Indego Africa is a fantastic organization – authentic, ambitious, and extremely dedicated to its mission of empowerment plus education. I feel so lucky to be a part of it!
This is the best part of my job! I love the whole process. Once I have an idea for a new product – whether it’s a broad strokes description, a spec sheet or sketch, an inspiration photo, a new color scheme, etc., the first step is to talk to our production team in Rwanda or Ghana to figure out which group of artisans to place the sample with, walk through any questions/clarifications, and figure out timing. They then place the sample directly with the artisans and work with them on making sure the product fits the vision. From there, they’ll send the sample to NYC for me to review. Sometimes we resample, redesign or put it on hold but many times we just go ahead and place an order! We are pretty flexible about bringing products to market. Sometimes development takes months and other times we have a sample ready to be photographed for promotion within a few weeks. That’s the beauty of a being a small organization with a clear vision of our aesthetic and our customer’s tastes – we are able to work quickly and efficiently and are constantly working to hone and grow our product line to make sure the artisans are as busy as they can be!
Its so inspiring to see how hard our artisan partners work to support their families and how, even during the busiest and most challenging times for them, they prioritize the needs of their children and families. To me, these ladies are the perfect embodiment of grace and motherhood. Sometimes being a mom can feel like its all about franticness, insecurity, guilt and worry. It can be overwhelming. When you speak to our artisan partners about motherhood, there is a certain joy and pride they radiate when speaking about their children and interacting with them throughout the day. It’s a breath of fresh air. I try to remember to bring that lightness into my role as a mama while also instilling the same dedication to a craft and to hard work that these women champion. They are beautiful embodiments of what I would like to be as a mother, a wife, a woman, a daughter, a sister and a friend and I consider myself lucky to have them as role models.
To do lists for everything scattered around. Alarms on my phone for everything I need to do throughout the day and week because my mind is never in one place. Live by the rule of tidying up as you go and completing quick tasks as they come in. Basically, I don’t let things pile up because I rarely have a big chunk of time to tackle big messes of any kind (be it emails, laundry, toys, or bills!).
Getting out of the house! Roaming around downtown in NYC, spending two hours browsing the heaven that is ABC Home, sitting at the beach and people watching, flea market or antique shopping. I also get so inspired on our photoshoots. Seeing our current products styled and in-action makes me so happy and so proud, I always want to run home and work on new designs. It’s the best energy boost of creativity!
I’m usually make up free unless we are doing something special or I’m headed into the city for work. It feels fresher and cleaner and I frankly don’t have the time! ☺ However, I am really into anything beauty + wellness related right now, essentially things that I can do at night after the kiddos are asleep. Luxurious and clarifying bath add-ons, face oils and masks, anti aging creams. I love the feeling of going to bed clean with soft, moisturized skin and some sort of calming scent. It also is a nice way to carve out me-time and to spend more than five minutes in the bathroom.
One of the essentials: the Dock a Tot, a Yoli and Otis carrier or a Life in Play diaper bag insert + one of the fun-to-unwrap littles: an Indego Africa x Tamar Mogendorff lovebird or an Indego Africa hand-embroidered sleepy onesie.
Right now first in our rotation is Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty. It’s a quirky little story my daughter and I love to read with darling illustrations and an adorable story of a hatmaker who loses her treasured hat on her birthday and a little girl who kindly knits her a new one. My favorite classic is Corduroy. The last page makes me cry. He reminds me of my little seven-month old cuddle ball son – sweet and clueless and absolutely endearing.