The women of Robertsport and I have been working on creating a hand-sewn product we can sell locally and internationally for almost three months. First, a small group of us talked about the project as I nursed a surfing wound in front of Nana's Lodge. Next, I brought the small group a sample of a large, slouchy monk bag, which they innovated into a sleeker, sturdier version, using West African batik fabric and sewing supplies I sourced cheaply from Monrovia. Then, we worked on quality control, standardizing the pattern and ensuring that edges had hems, knots were tightly tied, and that the seams wouldn't split.
Even before they'd sold a bag, the small group you see above had grown to ten. "Let's keep ourselves at ten," Bendu, the eldest and the Cooperative leader, advised. She's the one teaching women to sew and doing the first rounds of quality control, so fair enough.
Thanks to Myles Estes for this photograph, which shows from left to right Bendu, Tina, Mariama, me and Vivian at work. Bendu is the Cooperative Manager and now has a mobile phone so we can better coordinate orders and supply, and she, Tina and Vivian were the ones who came up with the project with me.
We'll be selling the bags on our website starting next week. They're $10 each, plus $8 shipping and handling anywhere in the world with a little less than 2 weeks to arrive. We'll accept payment on PayPal and have photos of the 18 different patterns you can choose from. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to make an order!