Tuesday, November 25, 2008
My trip to Tanzania was one of the bigger steps that I have made toward starting my business to import crafts from Tanzania to the United States. Other big steps have included quitting preschool teaching, getting a business license, getting all registered with the government, picking a name, building a website (ongoing), and accepting poverty with no end in sight. Ah, the sacrifices for the things we love.
So for two weeks I was traveling with my mom meeting with various artisan groups, most of which were all women. The main group that I am launching the business with is a group of basket weavers from the really remote center of Tanzania. I also am doing some product research and development with a few other groups who do batik, embroidery, jewelery and other kinds of basket weaving.
On the very first day of the trip we met with a women's group that is weaving banana leaves into baskets and purses. While I was meeting with the group one of the women stood off to the side knitting while she listened. At the end of the meeting I went to the car and pulled out my knitting which was currently Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts (perfect traveling project). Little did I know how interesting my knitting would be! The other woman had never seen knitting in the round, or double pointed needles, OR fair isle/stranded knitting (working two colors at once to make a pattern). She was really eager to try my project so I let her give it a go as the whole rest of the group looked on giggling. The poor woman was knitting a hat flat like a square! I could see the gears turning in her head as she worked my mitten in the round. It was one of those fun things that happens when you travel and you end up connecting with people in ways that you never would even imagine.