In the world we live in currently it can be easy to overlook how something has been made, or where it’s even come from. We live in such a buy it now society that urgency often overrides craft. But things are looking up. People are craving handmade, almost in a rebellion to the mass made. This kind of art makes the world go round, boosting communities and helping them to thrive.
We were so excited to discover Kenyan Crafts Company. Not only are their baskets super stylish, but the story of how they are made is truly special. We talk to the founder, Zippy on her company and the craft behind her baskets which are handmade in Kenya.
Tell us about Kenyan Crafts Company
The Kenyan Crafts Company started in November 2017. We are based in Chiswick, London. I was fortunate enough to travel the world for 8 years of being a flight attendant with Emirates airlines. Travelling made me appreciate even more the skills and crafts of my heritage and I now have the passion to share this with the world. We empower local skilled artisans and the strong women back in my community in Kenya. My grandmother was one of these strong women and as a basket weaver, she supported her family of 7 children as well as cultivating her small piece of land.
Tell us about the making process
The sisal plant which is a perennial succulent does so well in the arid areas. Our weavers who are from these areas purchase the sisal leaves from the market (mainly after an order has been made and 50% paid off). They take the leaves to their homes and then they extract the fibre which is a hard labour of love. The fibre is then dried, brushed, twisted, dyed and then the weaving begins.
Our basket weavers are Kenyan women from remote rural villages, who have learned the art of weaving from their mothers and grandmothers. They handcraft each individual basket to our specifications, earning income for their families while keeping their precious craft traditions alive for future generations.
It’s an art they have perfected. The baskets are woven with love and passion. Each piece has its own unique qualities and reveals layers of stories woven into the strands. Their magical hands create the most enchanting sisal baskets that will bring colour & texture to any home.
Each basket can take 3 days to a week to make, depending on the size and complexity of the design and style. The fine weave design takes at least 7 days to make.
What is your best selling basket?
We do a variety of styles and colours and all of my clientele are different so I seem to sell almost all sorts but I must say the natural baskets are good sellers.
What is your interior style, do you have a favourite designer?
My husband being in the interior world as a ‘Decorative artist’. I would say he is my favourite as he knows so much about colours and I often consult him when I am commissioning new basket orders. As I love colour, apart from my husband, I would say I love Kit Kemp because of how she plays with vibrant colours making interiors so unique.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from knowing I am making a family meet their basic needs. Our weavers come from very humble backgrounds and rely mainly on baskets during the arid season. I am so glad to see visible results of basket weaving in our weavers lives.
What’s next for Kenyan Crafts Company?
Our mission is to work and promote/empower more skilled artisans to bring beautiful and unique handmade crafts to the world.