Kenya Creativity to be honored - Starting with our Kiondo.
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Meet Mama Rebecca, she started an all female run village in Kenya where she helps young women run away from FMG, abuse and all sorts. Only enlightened men are allowed in. The young women can have relationships outside of the village. They can bring their babies up inside the village and children from outside are welcomed in to be educated.The community survive from making handcrafted accessories to sell to tourist. The first time Mama Rebecca and I spoke she called me 'my daughter' , I was in tears because I needed her the last 6 years - as a young single mother in this sometimes very brutal world (despite the smile and crown I wear), I related, not just to the safety net, but to what Fashion and escaping in creativity meant to me
I am honored to be working with her and other communities. (follow @theruralretail on Instagram).
Before I became Miss Kenya and Miss East Africa UK. I had a dream to make it in the fashion industry - and I was well on my way at 19 years as a Fashion Assistant in London. Before that, I was a little girl in Nairobi who got to see,touch and breath the magic sea of rural women draped in Massai wear, who spent hours trailing to the city to sell or deliver handmade woven baskets. They take weeks to make. You see the Kiondo is a social exchange among Kenyan's. We like to compare, compliment, tell stories about our pieces, because no one is the same. Isn't that the same language Luxury speaks? Traditionally the Kiondo is made from stripping the Sisal plant (a robust plant base material), now isn't that eco-luxury that the global industry is now ambitiously aiming for? This is what I wanted to showcase and found very difficult to be heard or understood when I worked in Fashion at the time.
Now In the UK, I walk into high-street shops and pick up luxury handbags at department stores who are duplicating the Kiondo using leather and mass producing. But when I ask the representatives or search for labels hoping a leaflet falls out showing me Kenyan women involved in making it - I am met with blank stares or a price tag marking it up to more than 200x the price. The most expensive was approximately £1,700.
The Kiondo and The Kikoy (a traditional Kenyan cloth) are extremely popular and exported to western markets. My Issue is not brands re-designing the bag. My issue is not including the people, the heritage, the sacred techniques passed on for centuries.
THIS IS DECIMATING LOCAL TRADE AND YOUNG EXTREMELY TALENTED KENYAN ARTIST'S ARE HUNGRY!
The claim that a Japanese company has patented our old- age ancestral cloth the Kikoy is a controversial issue in Kenya. I found a British registered company The Kikoy Company which seems to have offices in Kenya. So many have ripped this cloth out of our hands and we have allowed it, see Louis Vuitton's version Read this link.
HOPE FOR THE KIONDO.
Another British company tried to patent our old age basket and failed. But there does seem to be newly registered company 'Kiondo Limited' in April 2017. It is not clear what the company intends to trade.
That could make 2 of Kenya's national treasures, cultural heritage, possibly not owned by our people. We need to skill Kenyan creatives to compete globally and protect their innovations. Let's bring this conversation to the front, before it is too late.
Please sign the petition Kenyan's and lovers of Kenya.
I've launched The Rural Retail Challenge: asking Fashion, Art and Luxury to include the stories, sustainable techniques and craftsmanship of native people, in design Be the resolution. Support The Rural Retail on instagram #ruralretail
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