Our journey into sustainable baskets begins in Ruhango, which by far the largest producer of locally handmade baskets in Rwanda and comprises the biggest shares of Rwandan-made baskets. Whilst every region of Rwanda boasts its own rich natural bounty, each cooperative we partner with offers expertise in its own unique form of basketry. Weaving, dyeing, and grass-rolling techniques differ across the regions as much as basket shapes patterns and structures. These precious crafts are woven through the generations within families – passed along the continuous thread from mother to daughter – protecting and preserving an art form as old as man. Vast and colorful, vibrant, and bursting with natural beauty and style, our fair trade baskets are as eclectic as their homeland and its people. From sisal grass to
palm, banana leaf fibres to palm leaf, each weaving group works with what is locally available and only what can be sustainably sourced, to produce beautiful baskets which are 100% Rwandan made, and ethically produced. Natural dyes come from pounded roots, bark, and vegetables of the region, whilst all synthetic dyes are sustainably sourced.
Meet Jackeline nyiraminani a 47yr single mother of 6 children and also takes care of one of her own daughter’s child of a resident of Muhanga in Southern province Chantal has been part of the K dreamy creations, a social enterprise working with women weaving cooperatives since 2016 to promote fair trade for their handwork and products. Chantal’s day typically begins very early preparing for the morning to make sure her kids are off to school and by 8:30, she begins her work weaving with passion and love for more than seven hours each day with her cooperative members who meet in their neighborhood where they also gather to share ideas and encouragement for each other’s lives, dreams, and projects.
Meet Chantal Nyirasafari a 30 yr a mother of 2 whose life has totally changed since she started basket weaving and by working with the Irebe cooperative her earnings have enabled her to support herself and uplift her livelihood out of economical disadvantages- As a weaving artisan she makes her baskets from sisal and other eco-friendly materials Weaving is an alternative, sustainable income for the women and helps to support their families during the dry seasons, as a supplement to their farming production. The weavers are the backbone of our brand. You can almost feel their passion and talent when you hold up a Irebe basket Collection product. Every basket has been attended to by just one woman weaver, each one telling the makers personal story, pursuing original artwork and patterns that are personally yours.
THE WEAVING PROCESS
Here in Rwanda, our hand-woven baskets are traditionally given to commemorate significant life events such as weddings, births, and graduations- as they are truly a result of hard work and of love, sometimes taking many hours to complete each baskets Natural fibers are carefully stripped, dyed with organic materials, and dried before being woven into intricate patterns that are both beautiful and culturally significant, often passed down through generations of weavers.
The basket weaving session begins with preparing the sisal reeds that are cultivated from the inside fibers of the indigenous plants. Sisal has a seven-to-ten-year lifespan and typically produces 200–250 commercially usable leaves with each leaf containing around 1000 fibers. The fibers are then dyed and hung out in the sun to dry. This yarn is threaded into needles and wrapped around dry grasses to create vibrant baskets. In addition to its use of Sisal, The weaving process itself is a mobile and social one, with women gathering together in groups to talk and work at the same time.
OUR CONSERVATION PROGRAM
Our weaving communities understand the impact of our work on the environment and we have started up a conservation approach in our methods of work- all our products are made with eco-friendly materials which don’t harm the natural and environmental resources that are the raw materials for our baskets. We encourage our partners to keep the sustainability campaign in check throughout all levels of the supply chain during the production of these stunning baskets.