About 45 minutes outside of the town Machakos is a small village called Weta Market where my friend’s have a family business surrounding the idea of empowering marginalized artists and craftsmen in order to produce quality work that can be sold as a fair trade product to countries in Asia and Europe, as well as the USA. I am getting to know the entire Wambua family… first I met Anne, one of the daughters, who lives in Nairobi and provides groups of women with beadwork orders from people all over the world. Then the other sister, Peggy, trains and provides resources for seamstresses to design and sew their own products and posts them on the web for customers to buy, with the intention of also setting up shop in Nairobi. The two brothers, Solomon and Peter, have bought into this vision as well and work under their mom, Elizabeth Wambua, in IT support and administrative help.
Peter offered to drive me 3 hours away from Nairobi to check out the family business on thursday. If was an all day adventure but was well worth the trip. I was able to see many of the products that Mango produces for orders requested internationally. The main things that are sold include soap stone and woodwork carvings and woven handbags made from sisal. The family was very warm in welcoming me and showing me around the facility. Since the business seeks to empower groups of people from many areas of the country, there are only certain times when the artists gather at the facility to work. Many times what happens is after the people are trained to make a certain design, the product materials are distributed and the artists return home to work on the product. Once the products are finished then people from Mango True Mirage will go to collect the product and ship it to the customer.
In the next few months I hope to return to this place again and this time go visit one of the villages where the women work to see and learn the process of their art making! Also this place is called “mango” because of how many mango trees are surrounding the area, so I’ve been told in January and February you can just go around plucking mangos off the trees and eat as many as you want! So, yes, I do have ulterior motives!
Here is the website in case you are interested to learn more! www.mangotrue.net