It’s been a few months since the last MsAfropolitan Boutique Interview (with Jessica Huie of Colorblind Cards) and I’m delighted to resume the series.
In case it’s your first time here, the MsAfropolitan Boutique is an online shop launched as a tribute to the African Women’s Decade 2010 – 2020 and selling design made by women of African heritage. Alongside the shop, I feature an interview series with the women whose work is sold in the shop. The idea is that you can buy a product and also follow the story of the brand. Check out the series here.
First up since our shop relaunch last week, is Margaret Kadi, a Sierra Leone based entrepreneur and founder of Project Sierra Leone, a business set up to empower female Sierra Leonian artisans by selling their merchandise to the fashion-conscious woman.
Could you describe Project Sierra Leone in one or two sentences?
Project Sierra Leone is all about empowering women in Sierra Leone. Our ethos is that everything we sell is handmade by talented Sierra Leonean Artisans. We work with Artisans that both produce cutting edge collections and also work on private orders.
Any exciting developments currently taking place for Project Sierra Leone?
The exposure that ‘Project Sierra Leone’ is curently getting is exciting in itself! A lot of fascinating people have been calling and enquiring about our products. I got a call the other day from a CEO of an online company who wanted to stock one of my bags but wanted it with a strap (it is currently a clutch bag). As a result of this I have had to amend some of my current designs just to meet customer demands. We aim to please so we try and be as accommodating as possible. We are also currently looking at other natural materials that we could use in our products.
What does the term Afropolitan mean to you?
The term Afropolitan conjures up decadence and freedom in an African which is a great thing! I consider myself to be one because I spent my formative years in Sierra Leone as a child and spent 17 years in London. This has resulted in me embracing my African and heritage and international influence adapting it to my current way of life.
If you could pick one known African woman, Diaspora and continent, that you think is inspiring, who would that be and why?
Alek Wek. Her story (coming to the UK with very little, being discovered as a model and having the world as her oyster) resonates with me because it just shows that anyone can change their circumstances by persevering and working hard.
Is there any particular element from Sierra Leoneon culture that you maintain when you’re in London?
Oh yes, the food! My husband is a fabulous cook and he makes the most amazing sauces. Most of our sauces are cooked in palm oil so we try not to eat african sauces very often (too fatty). His speciality is something we call ‘Krain Krain’. It is like spinach but chopped very fine with fish and rice. After eating it I always tell him that I would propose to him if I wasn’t already married to him – it’s that good!
Do you have a favourite post on the MsAfropolitan blog, and why?
Definitely ‘Big butts are in Fashion‘. You hit the nail on the head with that article.
What inspired the name for your business?
When I first met the women I now work with I realized that something had to be done to help eleviate their struggles. They were wonderful to be around even though they were not selling much of what they made. Although I am not a designer I started thinking of a way that I could help. I love handbags and I am the proud owner of at least a 100 bags myself so I thought hhmm, that could be a great starting point! I am a meticulous person and when I started thinking of how to help these inspiritaional women I saw it as a Project and so the name came about. It just felt right.
Visit the Project Sierra Leone product page—
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Hi! I’m Minna Salami. I’m a writer, blogger, columnist, lecturer and speaker and the founder of the feminist blog, MsAfropolitan, which connects feminism to contemporary culture from an Africa-centred perspective. I’ve been listed alongside Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie as one of “twelve women changing the world” by ELLE and my work has been used as a resource and case study at universities around the world. Like what you just read? Sign up above to receive new posts directly in your inbox.