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This is Anna

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She is all dressed up. Her hair is braided and she is beautiful. She carries herself with grace and laughs heartily like most African women I know do. In her hand she carries her mobile phone. She is strong, confident and positive.  Like most Zambian women she believes in a brighter future for her children. Anna plays a huge part in the production process at little Ndaba our partner for the  Yawama Kids soft toy collection.  She ensures that the other women who come to the Wednesday meetings get the training and the encouragement that they need and ensures that quality specifications have been addressed. She is also responsible for yarn distribution.

Anna has been knitting since the age of 6. Her mother was her inspiration.  She lives with her husband Innocent, in small brick house that belongs to the pig farmer where her husband works. They have electricity and running water. They have 5 children. Her oldest child is 21 and her youngest child is 8.  They own a deep freezer and a TV.  Innocent has a steady income.

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Prior to her involvement at Little Ndaba Anna tried to make a living knitting baby blankets and scarves. She would  spend a great amount of time trying to market her product.  Now she can spend more time knitting and leave the marketing part to little Ndaba. Most often she knits in the early hours of the morning or in the evenings in front of the TV.  Every year she plants 1 ha of maize from which she harvests 20 bags of maize for her own family consumption.

With the extra income she makes Anna dreams of one day owning her own plot of land.

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Safe toys from Africa

YES YES YES. WE PASSED!

Test results

When this E mail came a few weeks ago I almost felt like I was back at school receiving exam results. After spending months trying to source an African organic cotton supplier, the little Ndaba team in Zambia together with the team at Yawama of Sweden ( Anna Lidström and Clara Lidström and myself) worked on new designs for the Yawama Kids.  You can only imagine my excitement when ALL our toys PASSED in ALL areas of the safety test.  I could not have done this alone. Thank you Charles at Little Ndaba and to Erin from Totoknits for your commitment to design, development and women empowerment in Africa.

Developing toys to meet  European safety standards can be costly business but can also be done in your home kitchen. We have tested both options. I have had so much support from Conformance and have run many trial run tests on our prototypes at home before sending our toys to the lab for analysis for official testing. So when I sent our 12 soft toys off I knew exactly what their fate was. Torture.

European standard EN 71 specifies safety requirements for toys with specific regulations for soft toys. Compliance with the standard is legally required for all toys sold in the European Union. The standard has been published in 12 parts and includes tests for flammability to ensure that fire does not spread quickly if the toy were to catch fire, mechanical testing to ensure that body parts and smaller parts can handle a certain weight before falling off and that dangerous elements are not present in the toy.

Further reading for those wishing to branch out in a similar venture

http://www.swedac.se/sv/Omraden/Ovriga-omraden/CE-markning/

http://www.sp.se/sv/index/services/toys/sidor/default.aspx

https://www.gov.uk/toy-manufacturers-and-their-responsibilities

http://oddsandsoxlets.co.uk/handmade-toys-ce-marking/

 

 

 

 

 

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Yawama Kids och Underbaraclara

Yawama Kids

Yawama Kids

Savannahome of Sweden changes name to Yawama of Sweden.  We have changed focus, worked on new designs and rebranded. Our big vision is to combine African craftsmanship with good Swedish design and sound business practices.

In conjunction with the name change I am proud to launch a children’s collection which has been developed with Clara Lidstrom, better known as Underbaraclara, one of Sweden’s largest bloggers and Anna Lidström, an established designer and stylist.  I am totally humbled to be working with these vibrant and talented women, who both share my passion to develop small business in particular women in Africa, and both share my commitment to respect the environment.

Nicola Fackel, Clara Lidström, Anna Lidström

The team-Nicola Fackel, Clara Lidström, Anna Lidström

Together we have developed the concept Yawama Kids - a children’s line that is totally unique. The collection includes products for children of all ages – that respect both planet and people. An ecological range of soft toys, hand painted cushion covers and recycled storage solutions. Our soft toys have been hand knitted using African grown organic cotton, and have been developed and tested to meet EU standards for Toy Safety. We are one of a few African toy brands that carry the CE Label. We are so proud to have made a product that we know is safe for your baby . Knowing that these toys have been hand-knitted by a Zambian mother gives me a greater thrill. We are totally committed to our vision of supporting small-scale producers in Africa, often women or widows, and ever thankful to the entrepreneurs,  and organisations that we work with in Africa for their commitment towards the same goals.

Our new product range has not just developed over night. It has taken months and months of planning, meetings, developing, research, sampling, styling, photographing and testing. Our goal has been to produce a unique children’s collection, without sacrificing quality, design or conditions of the producers. Something simply good. And that’s what YAWAMA means in my tribal language,  IT IS GOOD!

Fairtrade toys

Handknitted Plush toys

“I dont just see a cuddly toy, because that’s what it is. I see Mary and I see her son Junior, and I see his future.”

Producers

I sincerely hope you will follow us along our Yawama journey

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Chibwawa- pumpkin leaf

Pumpkins are grown in Sweden but many are unaware that pumpkin leaves are fully edible and are a great source of vitamins and Iron. I like to cook my pumpkin leaves with ground nuts or peanut butter, but you can exclude these if you wish although nuts do give an extra protein kick and will be a culinary treat for many in Sweden. Squash leaves, sweet potatoe leaves and beans leaves can all be cooked in a similar fashion. Chard (mangold) and cabbage can also be cooked with groundnuts with a much shorter cooking time. I suggest using fresh smaller pumpkin leaves. Older leaves will need to be peeled (almost like you would rhubarb) to remove the hairy bits. I also try to simplify my recipes so opt to use peanut butter as opposed to ground peanuts or crushed tomatoe instead of fresh tomatoe.

Fry an onion finely chopped, add a crushed garlic clove or two. Add a packet or tin of crushed tomatoes. Bring to boil and simmer. Roughly chop about 500g of your washed pumpkin leaves and add to the tomato relish. leave to boil for 15-20 minutes until greens are soft. Add 2 spoons of peanut butter and gently boil for an additional 3-5 minutes untill the peanut mixture feels creamy. 

I enjoy my ifisashi best served with Nshima (pup, nsima, ugali) however this vegetable is a great compliment to any rice dish and is great with grilled meat and potatoe.

Enjoy!

Chibwabwa

Pumpkin Leaves

 

Ifisashi- pumpkin leaves with ground nuts

Ifisashi- pumpkin leaves with ground nuts

 

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Sourcing ecological cotton in Africa

Cotton plant© Paul Hahn/Aid by Trade Foundation.

Cotton plant© Paul Hahn/Aid by Trade Foundation.

My aim has been to develop a fully African produced plush toy, appealing in design to a very demanding Swedish consumer and yet  within a price range that would be considered affordable despite its handmade nature. My frame of reference: I wanted  the yarn used in the production to be African and I wanted the product to be able to provide an added income for woman at the base of the pyramid in Zambia willing to learn to knit.

Zambia is a cotton growing country. However the spinning industry which did exist  in Zambia has failed and it has taken me months of research to successfully source ecological cotton yarn. Eventually I found ecological cotton grown and spun in Tanzania, dyed in Kenya and finally imported into Zambia. I am still to understand how to benefit from COMESA regulations so as not to encounter duties on imports from Kenya to Zambia. This will have to be another future project in an attempt to reduce costs on our knitted plush toys. Other sources of dyed cotton yarn proved to have been spun and dyed in India and the original source of the cotton unknown.

I feel frustrated over  Zambia primarily being a  raw material producer.  In my home town of Kabwe, Mulungushi textiles that once employed 2000 people now boasts overgrown gardens and dilapidated infrastructure. Rumour has it yet again that a “potential investor” is looking into starting up the facility.  Swarp Spinning in Ndola that had a production capacity of 50000 spindles went into receivership in 2008 at the hight of world economic turmoil. Some of the failures in the spinning and textile  industry are said to have been a result as poor management, competition from Chinese products, high production costs and the second-hand clothing industry. I believe however that there is still potential to develop this industry focusing on smaller industrial units and focusing on grass root production.

Africa is known to have some of the finest cotton-producing about 8% of the world’s cotton the majority of this cotton being produced by small-scale farmers in rural areas with little mechanical assistance. According to the Cotton made in Africa initiative   these simple conditions under which cotton is grown in Africa allow for a sustainable cotton production. The CMAI initiative promotes African grown cotton as a means of empowerment for rural communities in Africa.

Sustainable cotton

Cotton made in Africa

I am so looking forward to launching our new hand knitted children’s range made from ECOLOGICAL COTTON GROWN IN AFRICA.  I can hardly believe that we are soon there. Keep posted for more information on the design process and details on individual knitters.

 

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Ingen rädsla för färg

Här i Kapstaden finns det inga begränsningar vad gäller färg och form. Kapstaden beskrivs som en “cultural melting pot”.  En lång historia där khoi, holländare, potugueser och engelskmän alla har påverkat dagens Kapstaden.

Lite inspirations bilder från årets Design Huvudstaden.

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Afrikansk inspirerad klänning

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Afrika karta i afrikanska tyger

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Trådkorg

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Design Indaba Cape Town

Inspirerad efter en lång dag på Design Indaba Expon här i Cape Town. Jag har länge velat besöka Indaban för att inspireras av den fantastiska kreativa design som finns här. En riktig bra blandning där traditionellt möter nytt, gammalt möter nytt och syd möter nord. Dessutom enormt roligt att  personligen få träffa kreatörerna bakom våra virkade änglar och tomtar samt våra fantastiska tvättkorgar.

Mina  personliga favoriter.

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Väskor av papper

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Kuddfodral av plastsäk

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Handgjort keramik

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Korgar från Design Afrika

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