Lucy & Jo with Friends
Lucy & Jo with friends is our collaboration with artists across Kenya and Uganda to create beautiful lifestyle accessories for you and thriving livelihoods for them.
Combining traditional craftsmanship with modern design we serve as a channel for these talented artists to access a larger market. We know the people behind our products, regularly visit their workshops & communities and, when needed, provide support with tools, equipment or training. Watch videos of Lucy & Jo in Africa with the artisans!
Matumaini Children’s Home - Kenya
Wool Felt Animals ~ Employs 20 Women
Matumaini means ‘hope’ in Swahili. A Japanese woman, Teruko, founded the orphanage nearly thirty years ago and wanted to also find a way to empower women in the local community to care for their children. By bringing to life these adorable animals, Teruko has transformed the lives of these women. We asked the women how working at Matumaini has impacted their lives and here are just a few of the things they said:
“It helps me a lot. I can give my daughter an education.” – Sarah Nijeri
“It has given me courage and confidence in doing things with my own thinking.” – Monicah Warijiru
“It has helped me so much because I can educate my children and buy food for them so they are happy and so I am happy to!” – Lucy Wanjiilo
The Wandera Brothers - Kenya
Brass Jewelry ~ Employs 7 Men
We first met these three incredibly talented brothers in May 2016 while searching for jewelry makers around Nairobi. As it turns out, Duncan, Wilburforce and Bernard work in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa. Residents are often living on $1.00 or less per day and many have no formal education.
But, as you can see from their beautiful brass jewelry, creativity and talent always find a way to be expressed. We are thrilled to be partnering with them to bring their creations to the U.S.
Momma Teo - Uganda
Placemats & Table Runners ~ Employs 10 women
Momma Teo and her team of ten weavers create the vibrant runners and placemats you’ll find in our tabletop section. Using traditional handlooms, each piece requires the individual threads to be hand-fed through 300 metal ‘teeth’ before weaving can begin. This first step takes a full day.
As a widow caring for several children, Momma Teo believes it is important to empower women in her community with skills to earn income, be independent and provide for their children.
Dawson S. - Uganda
Wood Carving ~ Individual artist
Dawson has been a wood carver for over ten years. Once he carves the shape, each piece has to dry outside for seven days. They are then finished with three different layers of sanding from coarse to fine. While he works with multiple wood types, we only commission pieces crafted from sustainably harvested woods like fast-growing pine and eucalyptus.
When we first met Dawson, he was using two nails hammered into a log to secure the wood while sawing, carving or using his chisel. At one point during filming (video coming soon) he actually removed his shoe and started using his foot as an additional grip! Needless to say, we immediately went out and purchased a proper vice for Dawson.
Kyamaleera Women’s Craft Association - Uganda
Baskets & Embroidered Pillows ~ 40 Women
Kyamaleera (ch-I-ah-mah-lay-lah) is a community association of women artisans working together to develop alternative incomes using traditional skills. While they gather for meetings and occasionally to work together, most of the time they weave or embroider from home whenever they can find a free moment between caring for children, cooking, cleaning, harvesting or collecting water.
They also happen to live in a rural community surrounding a small patch of private forest where a wild population of 300 chimpanzees struggles to survive. In partnership with the Ugandan-based Chimpanzee Trust, we are working with these women to increase their access to a larger market so they can build sustainable livelihoods for their families that do not depend on the slash and burn agriculture currently threatening the chimpanzees.
Myende Kwagaalama Handicraft Association - Uganda
Sewing & Paper Beads ~ Employs 5 Women
Myende is a small island community on Lake Victoria. Located ‘next door’ to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, we first met the women of the Kwagaalama Handicraft Association in November 2015 during a visit to the sanctuary. The main source of income is fishing and the people on this island subsist on less than $1.00 a day, have no electricity or running water and face significant challenges on a daily basis.
Our short-term goal with these women was to create a simple product with their existing skills that we could order repeatedly & in meaningful quantities. What we’ve developed with them is the ‘packaging’ for our jewelry – drawstring bags sewn with bright fabrics and featuring their handmade paper beads. While we work to develop additional handcrafts, we are also helping support community development initiatives that are led by the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary as part of their community outreach work. Our first small project was providing supplies to the primary school with 150 students from kindergarten to 6th grade. This year we donated $450 to the Myende Hygiene Project, which you can read about here.
Threads of Blessing - Uganda
Embroidered Pillows ~ Employs 8 Women
The group motto for the women of Threads of Blessings is: “Through our hands we can do anything” and with their hands they create the most incredible embroidered folk art. Each of their pillows is one-of-a-kind, fully imagined by the artist and hand-embroidered after drawing their design on the fabric. They were originally creating only large-scale pieces that could take as long as six months to complete and often would not sell within their local market. By introducing them to the concept of decorative pillows (not common in Uganda), they are able to create more designs in less time leading to a more consistent and stable means of income.