The Briar x Indego Africa bonnet collaboration came together from an outpouring of love and hard work. We were so thrilled to be able to extend our community from Washington to Rwanda, and so honored to have met the talented artisans who work with this incredible non-profit.
Because we love sharing behind-the-scenes with you, we created a 3-part blog series about our work with Indego Africa. Welcome to part one where we answer, "why Rwanda?"
How did this partnership come about?
Earlier last year, I was contacted by Indego Africa to see if there was a possible collaboration opportunity. Their creative director (with two daughters) happened to be a fan! I was instantly intrigued with this non-profit. This was not a collaboration avenue that I had traveled down before, so I was excited to explore it.
What compelled you to work with Indego Africa and the Rwandan community?
For starters, I love the Indego Africa mission and really wanted to be a part of it somehow. I didn’t have an instant vision of the possibilities, so we began by perusing samples of fabric and handiwork. After receiving samples of the embroidery, I immediately knew this was the direction I wanted to go. I have seen a lot of hand-embroidery, and this was the best; something I thought Briar customers would really appreciate.
You traveled with your family to Rwanda! What was the experience like?
It was totally crazy! Taylor would argue that renting and driving a car in Rwanda was the most adventurous part of the trip. We loved the culture, the food was amazing (especially the brochettes!), and the people couldn't have been nicer. One of our fondest memories was getting a cold Coca-Cola on the side of the road while on a long, hot drive. It completely hit the spot!
Showing the kids how Briar was working with other women in Africa was pretty amazing. Beyond meeting the artisans at several cooperatives, we traveled out of the city for two nights at a tented lodge in Akagera National Park. We went on a wildlife safari one of the days, which was a major highlight for the kids (and us too!).
What were some things about Rwanda that surprised you?
Culturally, I was surprised at how many art galleries there were! We had a great time visiting them and sharing each other's favorites.
Economically, I was also surprised at the low cost of living compared to the US, and realized first hand how far the US dollar could actually go. For example, our safari tour guide had paid his way through two years of University, at $900 US dollars per year. This made me realize that by partnering with a non-profit, we can contribute so much for so little, respectively.
Describe the bonnets that Indego Africa’s artisans made for Briar.
This collection, by far, happens to be a personal favorite! It’s the most beautiful collection of brimmed bonnets: two embroidered florals and a hot pink African batik. I actually finalized the embroidery colors, and added the hot pink while we were in Rwanda!
By working with these incredible artisans through Indego Africa, the Briar community is helping to provide living wages and beyond. We’re taking the best measures to make Briar an even more global brand and we’re so excited about all the possibilities!