So let me explain. Africa is a part of many parts of me. The continent holds my first memories, my adolescence, my first adventures all by myself, and my work with refugees. I grew up with the mindset that my purpose was to help. My social work translation ended up leading me to heartache, burnout, anger, and utter exhaustion. I left this life over a year ago.
My year of rest has let me see that I will most likely never go back to direct social work. Africa has yet to leave me, though. I remembered a trunk full of cloth I collected along my journeys and the idea for my Etsy store, AfrikaByDesign, was born. Each piece literally has some story or memory of a person behind it. I have always had a good eye for beautiful design, even when I was caught up in trying to save the world. This past year has allowed me to recognize just how much I love creating.
The throw pillow slip cover above is made from genuine African wax print and part of a light blue Indian punjabi. A previous client of mine from Congo gave me the wax print as a thank you gift after I invited her to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. I never wear orange, but I adore this color especially in interior design (at one point my whole bedroom was painted a similar hue!). I like mixing African and Indian material in my work because it reflects one of the cultural juxtapositions of Dar es Salaam. People who have no experience of Africa are often surprised to hear things like this or of Arab influences and German enclaves.
My work is a true reflection of my experiences and my particular taste for vibrant color and patterns. Through creating pieces for AfrikaByDesign I have gained hope that I’ll soon find a much better place where I can help others while remaining authentic to my nature. This is the ideal best of both worlds that I wish for everyone. I’m so joyful to be on this journey and hope some of it finds its way into your hands!