Postcards from Kenya: dancing and weaving with our women’s basket co-operative

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We know many of you have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new collection of hand-woven sisal baskets from our women’s co-operative partner in Kenya. Well, not only have the baskets arrived in the Decorator’s Notebook shop, we can also share with you some fabulous new photos from behind the scenes, showing how your support is helping the co-operative flourish and grow.

Kenyan baskets from Decorator's Notebook

The great news is that you can now choose exactly the basket design you like best from a choice of five colourful patterns. Also, there are now five sizes in each pattern as well, ranging from extra small baskets (£14) to extra large baskets (£57). Decisions, decisions!

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There are so many ways you can use these colourful baskets. The little ones work nicely as pencil holders or plant pots, while the larger ones are practical for organising toys, towels or loo rolls.

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The passion and joy that goes into making the baskets shines out of every one. The community aspect of this co-operative is so important as it brings together women across the generations, from young mums who want to earn an extra income to village elders who can no longer work in the fields. While basket weaving is the purpose of their meetings, gossip, dancing and singing are the things that bring the ladies together.

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The sisal fibre is gathered locally and spun and dyed by hand. The new collection of Kenyan baskets at Decorator’s Notebook has five designs, including vibrant yellows, pinks, turquoise and green. You can buy all designs and sizes separately to mix and match a selection that you love.

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All this enterprise is too much for the younger members of the community! The brilliant thing about supporting women through fair trade is that the impact ripples strongly down to the next generation. Women will spend up to 90% of their wages on health, nutrition and education. Female breadwinners gain social status and self-esteem which raise the expectations and aspirations of girls.

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The weavers behind Decorator’s Notebook’s fair trade baskets come from Kenya’s Eastern Region. These artisans live south west of Nairobi in an arid area, amongst the hills and pineapple fields. Led by their inspirational chair lady Dorcas Ndinda, the weavers meet weekly to dispatch and receive basket orders, and to weave together. Their brick workshop is no bigger than a garden shed, but a hive of industry on weaving days.

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Single mother and greengrocer Dorcas formed the weaving cooperative when she began to struggle to feed her family with the crops she was planting and her earnings from selling what was left over. She knew that several women in the village made baskets and enterprising Dorcas approached these craftswomen and asked them to teach her their techniques. Soon, a thriving weaving cooperative was born.

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Government support soon followed and Dorcas was trained in business practices such as group leadership, health and hygiene, and agricultural methods. As the co-operative has grown the ladies have trained in quality control and marketing and the group continues to thrive as basket orders roll in.

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The weaving co-operative members all have an equal say in how the profits from their enterprise are re-invested for the benefit of the community. To date, these weavers have purchased a piece of land for developing into a village centre. Weavers are also able to take out interest-free loans using proceeds from basket sales after wages have been paid, helping families meet unforeseen medical bills and school fees.

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Each Kenyan basket you buy from Decorator’s Notebook comes with a photo label introducing you to the co-operative. For an extra special gift, fill a basket with goodies, from baby essentials for a new mum or art materials for a craft lover.

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Find the new collection of hand-made Kenyan baskets in the Decorator’s Notebook shop now, with free UK delivery when you spend £60. We ship to Europe and the USA too, so if you’d like to support the ladies who belong to this inspirational project, you can! Click here to visit the Decorator’s Notebook Shop.

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