Meet the Artisan: Alice from Hadithi African Baskets

Alice makes Fair trade African baskets in Kenya for Decorator's Notebook

There’s something extra special about knowing who made the things you have in your home. When I discovered Hadithi African Baskets, which are handwoven by members of 15 women’s co-operatives in Kenya and come with the maker’s name and photo, I knew straight away they would be perfect for our new fair trade home collection.

Alice Wali, above, is just one of the 450 women who are now able to make a sustainable living by selling baskets through their co-operative. She has kindly taken some time to share her story with us to explain what making baskets means to her…

It’s lovely to meet you. Please introduce yourself…

My name is Alice Wali. I am a member of the Makwasinyi Basket Weavers Group in Kenya.

What do you make?

My job is weaving baskets and other products from sisal. Mostly I make baskets.

Starting weaving a Kenyan basket for Decorator's Notebook

How a woven Kenyan basket begins Decorator's Notebook

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Sitting together and talking together while we weave. I also like to be creative.

Sisal fibres are prepared for making into twine to weave baskets

A few of the basket weavers in Mwatate cooperative for Decorator's Notebook

Mbithe rolling twine to make a fair trade basket for Decorator's Notebook

What was life like before the co-operative and how has it changed?

The co-operative has made a big difference to my life. Before, it was difficult to get enough food for the whole family and pay for school fees, but now I earn good money from making baskets. We all have enough to eat and I can pay for the children to go to school and buy their uniforms, books and pens.

By making fair trade baskets our weavers can send their children to school

Teresia weaves baskets for Decorator's Notebook in Kenya

What would you like to tell the people who buy your baskets?

Thank you so much for buying baskets so that this money helps my family. I am a widow with two children and I also take care of five orphans: three from my sister in-law and two from my daughter who suffered from heart disease and died in June. Selling baskets is very important for me!

Kenyan baskets from Decorator's Notebook Shop handmade and fair trade

Thank you Alice! We are so pleased to be selling baskets from Hadithi at Decorator’s Notebook and helping to support 450 women in remote areas of Kenya, just like Alice. Life is hard in their region and unpredictable droughts and conflicts between wildlife rangers and poachers are common. The women use weaving skills passed down from mother to daughter to create intricate handmade baskets from sisal, a plentiful natural fibre. They receive a fair price for the goods and, by working together as a co-operative, the women are able to secure a stable future for their craft.

Kenyan baskets from Decorator's Notebook with maker photo name labels

Each basket is individually handmade and we allow our weavers the creative freedom to design their own patterns. To reflect this, each basket comes with a name label and photo, so each basket is as unique as the woman who made it! Choose from small or large baskets in either natural colours (The Earth Collection) or a lucky dip of rainbow shades (The Bright Collection). Click here to shop these beautiful Kenyan baskets!

Kenyan baskets banner[Artisan photographs: Hadithi. Product photographs: Decorator’s Notebook]

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  1. says

    I love that idea of learning who made the stuff you buy. There is a unique story behind everything especially if it was homemade. These baskets are gorgeous and it is great that it provides a living for someone who struggled before. Thanks for the article.

    • says

      Thank you for your comment Fred – you’re absolutely right. It’s our philosophy that it’s trade – not aid – that’s going to make the lasting difference to artisans and break the cycle of poverty for good. We love seeing how proud our makers are of their work and showcasing their talents to the world!

  2. daniel says

    i am a kenyan from taita taveta county,i am happy to read here that you met a group of women from our home wife also have a group which weave sisal baskets here in our area,how will you help them to meet the market?

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