"hi jess...ur work sounds great..ii aim to work with and 2 support communities in different african countries promoting them thru medium of fashion - i'd love to hear more about the communities u help"
When I was asked to design a tartan for Kenya a few years ago I laughed at the idea. Howver I gave the matter some thought and eventually came up with a plan.
Today I have 22 African tartans, produce some 20+ products in each including 8 in wrapping paper, deal with all the High Commissions and National Tourist Boards and am called the 'Scottish Ambassador to Africa'. I work with World Women Trade Fair and Africa Health trust and have a dozen joint projects on the go.
Last November I launched the first 'tartans for Africa' fashion show at Strathclyde University and have been invited to take it to San Francisco and Cape Town. My products now range from a shet of paper at £1.25 to cocktail dresses at £200.00. so that everyone can make some sort of contribution to humanitarian projects throughout Africa. I sell the paper to ngo's churches schools so they can raise funds for their own projects and generate awareness.
By designing tartans using the colours in the flags of African countries Ive been able to give an international inter-tribal symbol of identity and help raise awareness. Products mean that people can contribute to and associate with countries rather than just give invisible donations. A percentage of profits goes to help set up businesses by having the cloth made in cotton so that we can establish womens co-operatives in each country making clothes for domestic use and export. ( To me ethical is more than just importing organic cotton, its allowing people to make the finished goods and share the profits). World Women Trade Fair provide equipment training and access to markets.
The South African tartan is to be launched in South Africa on SA Heritage Day from the top of table mountain in front of tv and press. In March there will be an all-African World Cup2010 fashion show and fair in CapeTown and African designers are being encouraged to take part. There are various smaller projects taking place in other African countries and were about to branch out into Europe with this idea.
The fashion show will also be staged by ABC Channel 7 in San Francisco.
There is no real limit to the scope of this project and virtually anything is possible. Last June we had African craftworkers selling their own tartan wrapping paper to people from all over the world at Rotary International in LA . This autumn Nigerian craftworkers will be dressed in their national tartan selling matching wrapping paper and carrier bags in Italy and Germany. Next month I have an Englisman wearing a Malawi tartan kilt to a wedding in DR Congo and I still have 30 African countries to go.