© 2020 All rights reserved
Handmade African inspired clothes with ❤
Since I started my business, we go to African markets with the products. I never thought before, what a big work it is, to participate even in a 2 or 3 days long festival! The work starts weeks-months before, and the previous days before the occasions start are just mad. Several boxes, clothes racks and other necessary things must be loaded in the car. Then at the venue….pfff long hours of work just to make everything look good!
But I must admit, the festivals have a kind of atmosphere that I love. One can learn a lot from other sellers who have been in the business for long. They are mostly Africans, coming to Europe for the summer, going around the biggest festivals in the whole Western Europe. They are mostly super friendly and so helpful! They even helped us with our tent when we bought it and had no idea how to stand it.
Once we went to a festival in Germany, that was the biggest festival I have participated in. Market was bad…so we had a lot of time to discuss with the other sellers. They came to my tent and praised my products, a bit surprised that I only sell clothes made of African materials. They also showed me their own tents. Well, minimum 70% of their goods are made in Indonesia, China and Nepal. I saw their price tags…9 Eur for a pair of trousers with elephant pattern, 35 Eur thick Nepalese colourful winterjackets….and then I thought of my own price tags. At my stand you can not find an adult jacket under 60 Eur then /yes they are 100% cotton inside and out but who cares…/…my trousers cost 35 Eur. And it was painful to see how people were picking and digging and selecting among those low quality 9 Eur trousers which they will throw away after a few months because they will go kaputt. And I asked, but is this not an African market? And they said ah yea, but people do not like the African clothes to that extent. Most of them are perfectly OK with the cheap made in China elephants trousers which they will wear proudly and tell their friends “hey check out my new African trousers I just got at the festival last week!”
In a way I believe the sellers degrade their tents and African products in general with all these low quality things. Because those customers who buy a pair of 9 Eur Chinese trousers and have to throw them away after a few months, will say “na look at these Africans, the type of bad quality things they produce” /why should they read the Made in Indonesia tag?/ and they will lose trust. And also, I think the essence of these festivals is to promote African culture and get people acquanted with the wonderful African materials and patterns. But then comes the financial part…these people travel all throughout the summer and they want to return home with money. And they have to find out what people want and give them that, for the sake of a nice income.
More of them suggest to me that I should start “diluting” my products with cheap stuff. Well, I know that my income can not be compared to their own. And I see that they sell a lot more pieces than me. But I have decided that I can not do that. I am building this brand and I am proud of the quality we provide. We make every pieces of clothes and accessoires here in Austria. Every piece is handmade, every piece is made with love. If you have a problem with anything, you come to me and I solve it. I take responsibility for everything that goes out of my hands. And so I want to keep it.
I hope you also go to African festivals. I hope you love African fabrics. I hope you can spot the difference between an African and a Chinese piece of cloth. If not, no problem! Just try and talk to those guys who are selling there. Ask them which clothes are made in Africa. Feel those clothes, touch them, turn them inside out. Examine them, and listen to those sellers. Trust me, after spending 10 minutes in a tent discussing, you will not even like to go home with something supercheap. Afterall that is why you went to an African festival, to know more about African culture. Or isn’t it?
You can check out a few Africa Festivals here –