‘Beauty’ is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Adinkra Designs handwoven baskets. Whilst we’re all saving their gorgeous products to our ‘must have’ folder on Instagram, Adinkra’s Kelly and Kelvin are busy working directly with artisans in Ghana on new designs and helping the local kids with The Adinkra Project. With the support of basket sales, two youth centres are already up and running in Ghana – how great is that!!
We recently heard from Kelly as she shared all about her commitment to fair trade and reveals the Ghana story behind each piece.
You can’t help but be inspired to make a difference after reading Kelly’s story. Adinkra Designs are truly a business with purpose.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you have never spent the night with a mosquito”
How did the idea for Adinkra Designs come about?
In 2016, we were lucky enough to embark on a family adventure to Ghana in West Africa. We all absolutely loved it, it was a great opportunity for our children to meet distant relatives and explore their heritage – there is so much culture to experience, the kids didn’t touch their iPads once! Ghana is such a beautiful, peaceful nation with a relaxed lifestyle, we didn’t want to leave. We really wanted to take a part of Ghana home with us and inspire others to explore this wonderful part of the world and so the idea for Adinkra Designs was born.
What was involved in setting up your business?
During our journey through Ghana, we met a lot of amazing artisans and were touched by their passion not only for Ghana but for their traditional craft. We met with awesome artisans and wasted no time putting a team of weavers together. We have family based in Ghana and they are heavily involved, they work alongside our team of basket weavers and make the intrinsic logistics arrangements for us. It’s well and truly a global family effort!
How involved are you in the design process?
We try to go [to Ghana] as often as we can. If I had my way, we would be based in Ghana permanently! (Never say never right!). We have team members that regularly travel to Ghana to source new products and to meet with the artisans to work on fresh design ideas that can include new basket shapes, new colours or experimenting with new materials. For example, we are currently working on a range of vegan friendly moses baskets. There are always new designs in progress.
What keeps you motivated with your business?
Having a deeper purpose to our business, beyond simply selling beautiful products and generating sales, we stand for more than that and knowing that the more we grow, the more we can contribute and make a difference is such a powerful motivating force!
Tell us about this ‘deeper purpose’ – The Adinkra Project.
We established The Adinkra Project so we could give back to the communities we work with and support their families. On our most recent trip to Ghana, we visited a village in Pepease where we distributed second hand clothing to young mothers. It was truly a moving experience to see how grateful they were. There are many children wearing clothes that we would have long thrown away so you can see how much they appreciate it.
But our major focus is on education for the children as we believe this is where there is a huge gap and an area where the most impact can be made. Education plays a vital role in empowering children to know their value and to gain income-generating skills. Children attend school but drop out at an early age because their family can no longer afford to send them, especially if there are many siblings.
The Adinkra Project, in partnership with AYI (Africa Youth Initiative) are growing a network of Youth Centres that focus on giving children a recreational space where they receive tutoring, access to computers, library and sports equipment. The Youth Centres function to provide a consistent and stable program to supplement their schooling that aims to build their life skills and confidence to break the cycle of poverty. We now have two centres up and running in Ghana and we have grand plans to open more throughout Africa. (You can check their progress on the AYI Facebook page)
How can we get involved?
There is an old African proverb – if you think you are too small to make a difference, you have never spent the night with a mosquito! And we definitely believe this – all help is greatly appreciated, no contribution is too small. And there are lots of ways to help, whether it be a monetary donation or contributing educational resources such as books, pencils, sports equipment, games, lego – anything that kids love, it all goes direct to the youth centre. Make sure to follow along on Instagram to see how much the children are enjoying their time in the youth centres. Please get in touch with Adinkra Designs if you can help.
What’s your favourite item in your current range?
It’s hard to go past the Baby Moses Basket. Being a Mum myself and having recently had a baby, seeing my baby boy peacefully asleep in his Moses Basket, knowing the workmanship and care gone into creating his basket just makes it all the more special. Not to mention functional – we have taken the Moses Basket everywhere, we live close to the beach and it’s been great that my older children haven’t missed out on our regular beach trips as bub can rest nicely while they play in the sand.
What is your reaction to seeing your pieces in other people’s homes?
It’s like the saying goes “when you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance” – it’s so true! Seeing photos of our products in other people’s home and hearing their feedback, really makes your day.
Who’s home would you love to see your designs in?
I love to see the baskets everywhere! There are so many different interior styles that are trending right now and I love to see how people use the baskets as a feature in their own unique space. They’re so versatile, they really go with lots of decor styles whether it be scandi, boho, minimalistic or tropical beachy vibe, they fit right in.
What are your favourite kids’ brands?
Half of my kids wardrobe seems to be Children of the Tribe, my kids are rough tumble play in the dirt kinda kids and their clothes really stand the test of time. I am a sucker for matching with my daughters so we also love the ranges from Spell Designs and Arnhem for kids and love that both labels are opting for sustainable practices.
What’s next for you?
Our long term plan is to expand our presence in Ghana, we want to be able to extend our team and provide secure income to more artisans. This will also allow us to expand our wholesale offerings further globally and produce more new designs.