Christmas shopping in Umeå 2014

Would you like to do some genuine local  shopping with a modern twist then Eljest is the place you are looking for. Swedish design at  its best where designers, artisans and producers from Västerbotten fuse traditional designs and crafts with a modern flare amalgamating continental influences to create unique pieces of jewellery, pottery, clothing, jams and much more. This year Yawama Kids collection of adorable soft toys and cushion covers are among many other handmade products on sale. Our small but very competent team of designers Anna and Clara lidström both have their roots in Västerbotten.

Eljest pop up store pops up once a year just before Christmas offering a spectacular range of handmade products. Tomorrow Saturday the 20th of December, I will be at Eljest from 11,00-16,00hrs. Eljest is on the main walking street this year opposite Lindex. Please pass by just to say hi or browse through the amazing range of products. I would be happy to answer any questions with regards to Yawama of Sweden producers and products. As we say in bemba MWAISENI- WELCOME.

Eljest Cultural Gift Store

Eljest Cultural Gift Store

Local Handcraft from Västerbotten

Local Handcraft from Västerbotten

Ecological soft toys designed in Sweden and handmade in Zambia

Ecological soft toys designed in Sweden and handmade in Zambia

Yawama Kids Collection at Eljest

Yawama Kids Collection at Eljest

Stylish Batik Cushion Covers

Just before Christmas in anticipation of 2015 Yawama of Sweden launches a small batik range of monochrome black and white cushion covers for the modernist or the earthy interior decorater. Would you like to add an ethical twist to your Scandinavian look? These batik cushion covers should do the trick. These cushions are not just African inspired but they are handmade in collaboration with Yawama of Sweden by women in Swaziland at Baobab.

batik cushion cover

Baobab is a small enterprise employing 25 women in Swaziland. All the women and predominantly single mothers. Baobab provides the women with tools to adapt to the growing responsibility and the shift in women’s roles in communities. Baobab is a member of SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade), an organization that supports the development of the handicraft industry in the country.

Svart vit prydnadskudde

Batik cushion  leaves

These cushion covers have been created by skilled artisans through a tedious process. Hot melted wax is artistically applied in specific design to a white fabric. The fabric is then submerged into a dye bath, the wax acting as a resistant on the fabric allowing the uncovered fabric to be dyed. The fabric is then left to dry in the sun. This process is repeated layer upon layer. The wax is then removed by boiling the fabric and a unique fabric with a crackled effect is created. The dyed fabric is then cut and sewn into uniques pieces such as our batik covers.

Monochrome interior

black and white cushion cover

Safe toys from Africa


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