Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Trading fast fashion for a slow future

Anyone who has read the post preceding this will be aware that I have officially quit my job. I've shared my reasons for making this decision and have drawn a line underneath it ready to start a new and exciting chapter of my life. So what am I going to do next? 

A while ago I posted about my trip to Ghana and the 100%recycled glass beads I bought while I was there( I shared a few photos of the jewellery I had created from the beads and then nothing more( Since then I have delved a little deeper into jewellery making and designed my first Textile Candy jewellery collection. Half of the collection will be made from handpainted wooden beads and the remaining half(which I am so very excited about) will be made from the handcrafted Ghanaian beads. 

I have decided to really fully commit to trying to start a business and believe that making and selling jewellery is a good launch point. One day I would love to branch out into home accessories and clothing, but that's a little further down the line.

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Above are some of the products that I have been working on: statement necklaces, simple necklaces, earrings and keyrings. They won't be available to purchase until I launch the Etsy store on 1st November but if you do see anything you love I can stick a reserve note on it so just send me an email at or a facebook/instagram message!I am also doing some custom orders for people so if you see something you like but would prefer in a different colour combination just let me know.

Now is as good a time as any to provide you with some more information about the products and the process.

The wooden items all start out as unfinished, unpainted and unvarnished wooden beads made from a Samak/China berry tree from a Chinese supplier I have found on Etsy. He delivers really promptly, gives me a great deal on pricing and always throws in a few new samples for me to check out. 

After receiving the beads I play around with structure and figure out what new pieces I can make and then the painting begins. I use acrylic paint for the wooden beads, I tried experimenting with some inks, oil and water based paints but the wood is quite porous and soaks up a lot of the colour, this doesn't allow any margin for error as once a bead is painted in ink it is very difficult to repaint- I have learnt this the hard way. 

One of the things I love about the wooden collection is that it has enabled me to be really experimental with colour. I've tried to paint all of the necklaces and earrings in quite an abstract way as I think these make them easier to wear. There are also a few different necklace styles in the mix as I want to use my first collection to test out which designs people find the most appealing. Some are on chain, some suede chord and the larger pieces are on satin ribbon.

Statement earrings are a huge trend at the moment, filling out retail stores and taking over the runway shows so I have added some tassel earrings to the collection. I also have some more simple handpainted studs and drop earrings.

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The Ghana bead half of the collection is still in its development stage but I can share a few of the pieces I have been working on! It will be made from the 100% recycled glass beads I have sourced while on my trips to Ghana combined with some metal fixtures I have bought from a Turkish supplier(also sourced on Etsy). 

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One of the reasons I am so excited about the Ghana collection is because I finally feel like I am able to do something good and have a positive impact on the world. The items in this collection promote recycled goods and raise awareness about the Ghanaian beadmaking artisans and traditional craft. Also I have decided that, for every item from the 'made in Ghana' collection, I will donate 10% of the profits to the Baobab children's' foundation (

From the offset I knew I wanted to make sure this business was socially conscious with a completely transparent production line. After working in fast fashion for most of my career I now want to do some good in some way, however small that may be. My first visit to Ghana introduced me to the beadmaking process and I realised how painstaking it is to create something so beautifully handmade. It is my firm opinion that we need to start celebrating traditional crafts like this and support the artisans involved in making them. So I decided I wanted to use some of the profits to give back to the communities that create the products I will be using. As can be imagined there are a lot of charitable organisations based in Ghana and, as much as I think what they're doing is great, I am only a baby business/small start up at the moment and so I want to build a relationship with a small foundation. I want to know who the money is going to, I want to know what it is being used for and I want it to go to a cause I feel really passionate about. This is why I chose Baobab School of Trades and Traditional Arts.

They are a small NGO registered in Freiburg, Germany(which is actually conveniently close to Basel), it was founded in 2001 and now has around 100 pupils at the school it supports. I first became aware of the Baobab school and childrens foundation on my first trip to Ghana in February. I was volunteering and living in Cape Coast at the time where they have a guest house and restaurant which helps support the school. They also sell all the products created at the school in their Cape Coast store including, batik fabric and garments, jewellery and paintings created by the students.  
The Baobab school is an extremely special place as it focuses on a creative education and teaching the children vocational courses that they will be able to use to provide for themselves in the future. The thing that makes it even more fantastic is that it is a school for disadvantaged children from lower economic backgrounds, orphans and children with learning/physical disabilities. Outside of this school these children would struggle to stay in education and learn to be self sufficient.

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The children are still provided with an academic education and have morning lessons in English, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Entrepreneurship but in the afternoon they focus on 2 vocational courses that combine well to ensure they can earn money post education. Vocational courses include: 
carpentry, bicycle repair, sewing, batik, cane and bamboo furniture making, kente weaving, beadmaking, painting, basket weaving, organic farming, oyster mushroom cultivation, production of medicine from medicinal plants and catering. 

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I am currently in conversation with the founder, Edith de Vos, and am hoping to find out more information regarding the prices of equipment for the students at the school, the cost of each child's education and how much it would cost to sponsor a child's education. Should any of you lovely readers want to get involved- I will keep you all updated with the information I receive.

This half of the collection will also be packaged with a FREE wax print cotton gift bag. The fabric was hand printed in Ghana using the traditional batik process, half of the fabric used in the gift bags was created at the Baobab school and the other half has been created by the independent batik mamas employed by Global Mamas. While in Ghana last week I contracted Debora, a local seamstress in the Cape Coast area, to sew the gift bags using the fabric I had selected. This was important for me as part of creating a transparent production line.

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Left to right: Baobab batik fabric, Debora sewing the gift bags, one of the gift bags in the fabric purchased from Global Mamas.

Hopefully this has been a useful update for you all to see what I'm working on and what I have quit my job to do. I'm really excited about this and am praying extremely hard that it goes well. Please check out the Etsy store when it launches on 1st November, until then I am posting product updates and inspiration images on my business instagram: @textilecandy 

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It would be really great to drum up as much support as possible for this baby business of mine, especially while it is in it's initial growth stage so please feel free(No pressure at all) to share this post/share images on pinterest/facebook/instagram I would love to be able to sell most of the 'Made in Ghana' collection and raise some money for the Baobab Childrens foundation!

Gone is the van plan of last November, this time it's for real.

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